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37453 / 80000


Not as much progress as I'd like, but more than none! (Words yesterday; pretty much no other day this week. I need to figure out when I can slip in writing-time.)

I now have, actually and officially, a Complete Class Schedule. It only took...a week and a half. It is full of excellent classes and interesting topics. Work, as always, continues awesome. I have started training in my replacement, have been given a pay boost, and have been granted access to more places I need to go to do the stuff I do. Win.

Also, this happened, and subsequently this. There was also a cloak involved, except none of the indoor photos really worked out, and it was too warm out this morning to make Kate wear a cloak outside. Ah well.

Tonight we're hosting the second of hopefully many Doctor Who parties. The one last week was a success despite a large thunderstorm and--weirdly--a tornado watch (Massachusetts, what are you doing). We were going to bake something this week, but, well, TPotS.

(...and I actually did homework this afternoon, even though our site where professors post readings was down for two hours; I was Resourceful and found the reading on the internet, and by the time I'd finished that, the site was back up and I could watch half of the documentary. So I didn't bake anything. Oh well. Next week, maybe.)

It's interesting how quickly I've slipped back into the rhythms of the semester. It's only been a week and a half, but all the patterns are there: lunches here, dinners here, except on these days when dinners are here; these people; these places...

We're establishing some new patterns, too, of course. Some are good, some not-so-great, but here's to keeping the good ones going and stamping the not-so-good patterns before they get out of the door.
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[livejournal.com profile] acm28 is being tempting and if I write a full-length play it will be all her fault.

(And then she will have to direct it next year instead of just saying she probably would. So there.)
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So I wrote a play.

excessive verbiage )

Basically, it was a great experience. I'd love to have something else produced, either this again or a different script; I'm having to talk myself out of starting lots of plays now. (Alena, you still have a novel to revise, remember?) It was fantastic. It was [lots of adjectives].

Writing a story in two days at Viable Paradise was something, but this... was something else.
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I have been to Viable Paradise, and I have returned.

excessive verbiage, also pictures )

And then I came back. )

And then I fell over.

In summation: this week I got to have my cake and eat my cake and I feel like I still have cake left over, possibly frozen and ready to be heated up and eaten. (Technically the pan cooling on the stove is apple crisp, but who's counting?)

Right now I'm hoping for time to work on revising "Lightening" soon; my goal is still to revise A Returning Power by the end of the year; and maybe I can write another short story or two. It's nice to have my writing-brain awake again. I will do my best to make sure that it doesn't fall back asleep on me.
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1. I had a Readercon! I met some people I had previously known only as Internet usernames, including Leah Bobet (with whom I chatted sitting in the hall outside the very awesome and entirely too warm Interstitial party on Friday evening) and Brit Mandelo (with whom I failed to have any conversation, but waved at in passing), and saw some of those people one only sees at conventions (like Ellen and Delia, or Claire Cooney and Pattie Templeton, whose name I am probably spelling wrong), and met a couple of excellent people for the first time, and saw [livejournal.com profile] vcmw and [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae, which was fabulous.
1.5. I did not get Delany to sign my copy of Stars In My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, because apparently I left it in Minnesota.

2. I have now taken the Starburst Challenge, which means little if you did not go to the summer writing camp [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae and I attended as junior high/high school students. (We were so young then!) It is where you are given a Starburst and have to unwrap it with your eyes closed and determine what flavor it is, and it is a Thing at MITY. When I actually was at MITY, I did not know whether I could eat Starbursts. Lately I discovered that I can. So Sally and I went in together on an extremely expensive package of Starbursts from the hotel lobby shop and I took the Challenge standing on a grassy slope by the Burlington Marriott parking lot.

3. Sally and Kate polkaed down the hallways of Readercon.

4. I now have extensive notes, plus bits of actual text, on a short story and a novel, both of which I just need to sit down and draft, dammit, except that I keep not being near a computer (and when I am, doing such important things as Checking My Email And Marking All Those Emails I Saw When I Checked It At Work As Read On My Computer).

5. ... Also I got a really nice rejection on my flash fiction "Katabasis" and I intend to change a couple of things and send it out again, but I haven't yet.

6. I read some books on my commute, but I forgot to write them up for a post and lately I've been using that time to write (or, well, think about stories), so there you have it. Not totally destitute of books, but busy. (I got a library card yesterday. So there may yet be more books.)

7. Yes, this entire post is "I have a brain! Really! Sometimes! It's just buried under... things!"

8. In mad-scientist news, part of my job involves testing things at higher and higher voltages until they produce large purple sparks and stop working.
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I want to bring library books with me to return when I go to meet a friend this afternoon. This means I should probably type up Books Read. Which, in my brain, means I ought to write up everything else that happened this weekend because that's more important. Instead I will type up books read, wander off to do things, and come back to complete the post later.

WisCon )

China Mieville reading )

Books read )
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This morning I went on a Quest for Bordertown. The new anthology came out today and I was determined to possess a copy by the end of the day. (Spoilers: I was successful.) I knew I was going to be downtown, so maybe I could just get one from the B&N down there...

...but really, that'd be cheating. So I popped down to Birchbark Books, who didn't have it in their extensive and lovely YA section--but looked it up when I asked about it, and said it seemed awesome and they'd buy a copy or so for the store, anyhow.

And then it was off around the lake to Uptown, where I caught the bus to Uncle Hugo's, because I'd decided that supporting independent bookstores was the better part of valor--er, or something like that. Uncle Hugo's, of course (of course!), delivered. One copy of Welcome to Bordertown dropped into my hands. (At first I was worried, but turned out it was just leaning on the New Releases bookcase behind something else.)

From story one, it's the Bordertown I remember, plus a bit of the geeks and runaways of today. So far I am loving it. I'm halfway through, or so.

Anyway, after that I headed downtown and ate lunch staring at a book (familiar feeling) before meeting [livejournal.com profile] 1crowdedhour at the library to catch up. Got some books from the library so Bordertown wouldn't feel lonely, and came back home. I'd like to just dive back in, but I should probably spend some time developing Plans to hang out with people, or working on writing... we'll see how it all goes.

Speaking of, I've been thinking I should commit to doing something writing-related every day this summer: revise a scene, brainstorm things for a new story, draft something, whatever. Last week I was doing pretty well on this, this week not so much. When I'm doing physics research this summer I'll have plenty of things to distract me, so I should probably get in the habit now if I'm going to do it. On the other hand, it's summer; I'll likely get some work done in the next few months either way. And the time not writing is usually reading books or seeing friends or whatever... or, admittedly, watching television on the Internet, which is maybe a worse use of my time than writing.

We'll see how that all goes, too, I guess.

---

Entirely unrelatedly, my friend [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae has a post here looking for a rideshare to Readercon this summer from the Twin Cities:

What I need, then, is some friendly person or persons who would be willing to travel with me and who have a car. I do not know of such persons right now, but if you do, please let me know.

I will also be abroad for a month starting this Saturday so I should really plan this soon if I want to go. Which might make planning impossible but I might be able to get internet while abroad. We'll see.


Anyone? It'd rock if she could make it--she's never been to Readercon before and I know she'd love it.
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Whoosh. Let's see.

Spring break was, as previously mentioned, wonderful. The last day of it, Kate and I stopped by Harvard Bookstore and I got to say hi to Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman--and hold a Bordertown ARC, memorialized here--and pick up a few Bordertown postcards. Eee! Bordertown! I am very excited.

When I got back I found that my copy of Steam-Powered had arrived, but I have only had time to dip into it now and again, because when I got back I also plunged straight into production week for Play Dead.

Lookit me being a man:

(From here)

The mustache was a late addition so that I didn't look like a fifteen-year-old Dickensian orphan in my other costume. I remain startled every time I see that picture at just how much I look like a man.

The show was, overall, fun. Cast and crew were awesome, script was funny, my role was neat (cheerful gay actor from the 1920s who dies in the play-within-a-play in the first scene!). There are pictures of me wearing plus-fours in the school newspaper this week. (What year do I live in again?) Production weeks, however, not meant for Alenas. Rehearsals until midnight (or later) most nights for a week... not so good. I got tired, slightly cranky, and sort of sick.

This week was "finish all the work that I didn't do last week", which was also kind of stressful, but is over.

Other things I have done include: fill out and turn in study abroad forms; sign paperwork for summer physics research; send in my housing form; start thinking about classes for next semester. Oh, and I'm not sure if I should take the train home/to my research/back this summer. Hmm.

This weekend I have a concert with Voces Feminae, the early music choir I joined this semester. We had an extra rehearsal last Friday. I couldn't go because I was onstage. Um. But I think I will be able to help the group more than I harm it by singing with them at the concert, so that's good; and we really do have some nice pieces. It's been a while since I was last in a singing group, and I do enjoy it.

Other than that, I plan to read the rest of Steam-Powered, catch up on slush, and maybe (dare I say it?) work on something writing-related. As I said: whoosh. It's good to just sit down for a little while and listen to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain on youtube and not have to jump up and go rushing off somewhere for once, or be thinking I should be working on homework.
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And we have second draft! I have sent it to a few people for another read-through, intersecting with but not the same as the people who very kindly read it for me last night.

Second draft is, I think, much improved.

Now it is time for me to go off and eat lunch and do Something Else for a few hours. Too bad the jigsaw puzzle's all done, because that is always a nice way to distract a brain.

Gratuitous mention here of awesome friends who have been encouraging me with extended dinosaur and coal mine metaphors as well as music, and who gave me many excellent apocalypse suggestions last night. They rock.

(I kind of knew it had to be a singularity, but I didn't want it to be a singularity. And when I got up today I realized the singularity was incidental to the actual story as a whole. But the apocalypse suggestions were still helpful.)
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47.3 / 47.3


As of this evening, there's one fewer novel outline on my wall. First-and-a-half draft of A Returning Power is done.

I knew for a while it would be shorter than 80k (or 70k, or 60k...), but I kept not shrinking the meter--I think because I didn't want to make myself believe I was closer to the end than I actually was. But 47.3k seems a perfectly adequate length for this novel to be, and it has pretty much all the things in it that I wanted to be in it and pretty much none of the boring and/or pointless parts.

This novel rounding out just under 50k while scores of NaNoers race on toward the finish line make me think about NaNo and me and writing. The process of redrafting this novel was way, way, way different than my NaNo process ever was. It also took much longer, taken as a whole (started this summer, finished up, well, now). In some ways I miss the scramble and particularly the community of NaNoWriMo. But (at least right now) I like this novel and I think it works in a way that I personally doubt, given my method and attitude toward NaNoWriMo, ever would have happened for me in that hurtle toward the finish line.

Which boils down to: it's true what they say. Writers really do all have different processes, and different things that work for them at one time or another.

The break was awesome--I got to hang out with [livejournal.com profile] vcmw and drink lots of tea (five kinds between Friday and Saturday, and all excellent) and work on novels and talk about whatever and anything. She has the smart and also experience of the world I do not. I think she's great.

Came home to a rejection notice from Apex. Out again, small story! Out!

Now there's just one novel hanging on my wall... and that physics homework I really should be working on before I collapse into my bed. What was that you said? No, it's not due tomorrow... 'course not. Nope.
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After this weekend, Boston is officially on my list of awesome cities. (This list also includes Burlington, VT, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, for those of you playing along at home.)

I can't quite come up with an adequate way to summarize this weekend, so I will just give most of a narrative.

A major theme is really nice conversations with [livejournal.com profile] mlt23. Saturday morning we wandered along the Charles River, talking about college and life and jobs and growing up. We made it all the way to Beacon Hill, which is quiet and beautiful and where we got briefly lost (and I stalked a pigeon for a few feet, until it startled) and then found ourselves again, and Boston Gardens. The Gardens had a number of buskers, but the best was an older man with a magical musical cart, decked out in largely neon green festivity, with a sign saying "Peace Wave Machine". His hat had gauges on it, measuring who knows what--cheerfulness, maybe. He played only happy songs.

We walked back along Beacon Street, and I got to marvel (another theme) at Boston architecture, so different from any other city that I know: the brownstones crowded close together, and what profiles they present as they march down the street ahead of you.

That afternoon, we went to the International Antiquarian Book Fair, where I fit in perfectly with the multitudes of tweed- and hat-wearing people. I say people; I mean men, because very few of the women were wearing tweed. Still, it made me slightly smugly proud to find that I pass as male so very easily in a crowd of rare book dealers.

The books were gorgeous, and expensive; I found a Dante that I didn't think my rare book room owned, and wrote the details down on the business card of the relevant stall. (When I brought this evidence of my busman's holiday sheepishly into work today, my boss accepted it as completely normal.)

In the evening, I got to see an a cappella concert, possibly now that I think of it my first with all-male groups. One was the Dear Abbeys, some of whose music I own, so I was expecting it to be really good, and it was. The crowd in the hall wasn't my favorite part, but endurable for the music--and now I know why the youtube videos of a cappella songs are so loud. (Or rather, I've experienced it live; still not completely sure why it happens.)

The next day, I took the T all! by! myself! to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] jesstherobot and hang out. We talked about, what, writing and college and physics and stuff (clearly I should have written this up earlier) and wandered and drank tea. I got to see Pandemonium, and I bought a book, too, Abraham's An Autumn War.

By the time that I had to get back to the bus station, I didn't want to leave. Fortunately(?), the bus I had been wanting to get on was full by the time [livejournal.com profile] mlt23 and I got there. The next one was an hour and a half later, so we went to get tea. While we attempted to find the best place, I spotted someone in a vest and nice hat, with a chain snaking into his pocket. With only a moment's hesitation (am I that person? yes, I am) I went up to him. "Excuse me," I said, "do you have a pocketwatch?" He glanced down. "No, I have a wallet," he said, with regret. "But I own a pocketwatch--I'm just not wearing it."

So that was Boston. (I got on the next bus; it dropped me off in Amherst, and I took the five-college bus back, arriving at eight-fifteen not having eaten dinner. Happily, my friends had claimed a plate for me and put it in my fridge, so I got some food.)

I realized on the bus back that this is the first time I'd planned and executed a trip entirely by myself, including "this is where I will go to buy food and I will find food and be able to eat for the rest of the weekend" (complicated by only having a fridge and microwave to work with, but it worked out really well!).

And by this point I might even be caught up on homework, due to an annoying but productive couple of days. And next week is Thanksgiving.

Someday I will definitely be going back to Boston.

40.1 / 60


The more novels I write (and rewrite), the less the multiples-of-10k milestones mean to me. But hey, I hit one!

--also, Ideomancer is hiring slush readers and I work there and it's awesome and you should be awesome too and apply. That is all.
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35.5 / 75


Tada. (I snuck away once this week, on Wednesday, to write. The rest is this morning.)

This novel redraft is quite definitely not getting done by the end of October. Oh well.

---

Last night was the geek dance. It costs a dollar if you go in costume. There are six people in our moving group, and once when my roommate and I were not doing homework we brainstormed ideas that we could all do. The best idea that we had was quarks--up, down, top, bottom, charm, and strange.

Somehow, between then and now, we didn't come up with any idea we liked any better, and somehow we put it together. A trip to Amherst was involved, and a sign-making and makeup-putting-on (on faces, on arms, on... hair...) frenzy happened last night before the dance started.

And so I dressed up last night as Jonathan Strange, Quark, and went out to dance.

(My tuxedo and a cravat were involved, as was spray-on orange hair dye that didn't work very well. Thus, orange Halloween facepaint was put in my hair to emphasize the color. Any flaw in my dress--one side of my cravat was fraying, there was a tear on my trouser leg, my cravat may not have been very well-tied, my hair stood mostly straight up--could be explained away as me being Strange near the end of the book, with the pineapples and candle-flames and all.)

Sadly, a number of people had to have the costumes explained to them. "QUARKS!" we yelled in their ears over the music. "We're SUBATOMIC PARTICLES!"

But we did get selected to participate in the costume contest. Even though we didn't win, we made it into the second round, so we were pretty pleased with ourselves.

Mostly, I am just entertained and amused that we actually did it. Like I said to one member of the group a couple of days before, it isn't like we'll likely have a six-person moving group next year or the year after that, so this was our chance. And we took it.

(Today I am wearing my "QUARK" sign pinned to the front of my shirt. Because I can.)
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I always complain, ahead of time, about not understanding the point of Coming Out Day.

I say, "What is it, anyway?"

I say, "How am I supposed to celebrate this thing? I'm already out, after all."

And then it arrives. Some years that I've been aware of it, this attitude has continued. But not this year, not really.

This year, throughout the day I spent bits and pieces of time on facebook, scrolling through pages of news feed updates so I could 'like' dozens of Coming Out Day statuses my friends put up, and I didn't even hit all of them. People declared themselves queer, bisexual, gay, straight.

All of them, every single one of them, are brave and beautiful and bold.

And I figured out that it's not exclusively about the occasion of you Coming Out--that first time you stand sweaty-palmed in the doorway and say, "Um, uh, so... you know how I'm in the Gay-Straight Alliance at school? I'm not in the straight part." It's about that, but it's also about visibility; it's about awareness; it's about community; it's about we-are-here and here-we-are.

It is, I think, a nice holiday.

So I am pretty proud to type this post up, with all these people standing with me: across the campus, across the country, and across the world. (You aren't reading this, but you'd know who you are if you were, and my thoughts are with you.) Some of them I know, and some of them I will know, and some of them I never will, but here we all are.

I am gay and cisgendered1. Happy Coming Out Day!



1 The other reason I like Coming Out Day is that it's an excuse to come out as cisgendered, which I don't often get, and thoroughly enjoy when I do. It's so often an unmarked state in our society that getting a good chance to mark it prominently pleases me.

2No, I did not get any writing done today. Shh.

re-emerged

Jul. 21st, 2010 09:58 pm
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I wrote 64 whole words today!

There are, as always, excellent reasons for this. One is that I showed off my political cartoons to [livejournal.com profile] 1crowdedhour at the library. Another is that I started reading Delany's About Writing this morning.

And then I read it on the bus to the library, and possibly missed my bus back from the library while reading it at the stop (I was reading! I'm not sure!), and read it on the alternative bus back toward home, and while walking home from said bus...

In summary, I think Samuel R. Delany is really, really awesome. I knew this already, and in fact had read several of the essays here contained before (in Jewel-Hinged Jaw), but even the short months since reading Jaw had given me a different perspective on those pieces, and they are surrounded in this by other essays and letters and interviews...

Delany makes me feel ignorant, unsophisticated, like I never read (anything, or anything good), and like I don't try hard enough. He consistently humbles me in every single way possible and some I didn't think were. Also, every time I read his essays or letters or interviews this one quote from DWJ's Year of the Griffin comes floating back to me--the one about Elda floating into breakfast with her mind feeling like a stack of umbrellas that have been opened, some of them inside out. My mind usually feels like that afterward.

So writing, even sixty-four words, feels like a major accomplishment. Instead of reading Delany's essays and going "I could never have that determination to the work, I may as well give up now" I took it and grabbed a prompt and wrote. Okay, two paragraphs (one a sentence of dialogue), but still! Not becoming completely discouraged! This is victory.

And then I stopped and wrote over three hundred words of analysis of possibly what those two paragraphs imply about the rest of the story. There is probably way more I could write down, and will. But in the meantime: sixty-four words! Hooray!

(The thing that is not a word is 'rimned', which I totally thought was a word until I figured out that I was conflating 'rimmed' and 'limned' into one portmanteau word that meant what I wanted it to. Now I think that 'rimned' should be a word. Intuitive? Votes?)
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Because apparently no year of my life lately, or draft of this novel, is complete without at least one early-morning writing session before I have to go somewhere:

12.4 / 80

And that's a wrap on Part One, I think--12.4k is a respectable size for it, 15% of 80k. In the Events I Really Need timeline, I have gotten through 8 of 28 bulletpoints, but, well, let's not think about that. (If I made a list of Events I Kind Of Need, it would be much longer. And a lot of the changes I'm making got set up in the first part... so there were many bulletpoints there. So.)

I have to admit, there is something I really like about this sort of hurried-pace writing. Ever since a friend of mine talked me into doing NaNoWriDay (attempting to write 50,000 words in 24 hours) with her as 'preparation' for NaNoWriMo, I've felt pretty good about the whole thing. I know that I can type quickly for hours, and invent things off the top of my head if I don't know what I'm doing.

This exercise, however, does not resemble NaNoWriDay (or even NaNoWriMo) in that I hope to come out of it with a coherent draft. Fortunately, it also doesn't resemble those events in that it's not the first time I have written this novel.

I know who my characters are and what they would do in each particular situation; I know what the setting is; I know the plot and have a notion of the structure, I know when each event should fall. And while I've changed a few things about the setting and more things about the plot (setting change feeding into plot change feeding into actually giving my character a motivation to do a couple of previously-questionable things), a lot of it remains the same, and I have a copy of my first draft lurking just a click away that I am totally free to crib good lines, dialogue, or passages from.

This makes it way easier. I'm still composing on the fly, but on a much smaller scale than when writing a first draft, when I'm creating world, characters, setting, plot, and structure wholesale. And in some ways the deadline makes it easier: it forces me to just write--which means I won't get distracted by things or let it sit for months in the middle of the draft, forgetting names and descriptions, what the colors are that the great House wears or what kind of ring the main character has on his right hand. I just keep typing. (The running 'notes' file helps, too, but, well.)

...like those events aforementioned, though, while the deadline's self-imposed, I also have people willing to, alternately, cheer me on or hit me over the head on iChat and tell me to get back to work ([livejournal.com profile] browniecakemix! [livejournal.com profile] epicrauko! [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae!), as well as a whole host of others supporting me in more passive ways. (Including my mother, whom I keep updating with My Wordcount Right Now and who is very patient with me.) I like these people. I might be able to do this without them, but it would be far harder and much less enjoyable.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Elements for an excellent day:
- beautiful weather
- reading books (that might not be the greatest book you've ever read, and you might keep comparing it disfavorably with something else, but it's okay, I mean, you're still going to finish it)
- time to work on your novel
- hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] 1crowdedhour
- sitting out by the lake on the dock, barefoot, thinking about how to revise your last novel

Mix well. Most of these, I admit, could or do happen most days of this summer--except for hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] 1crowdedhour, which hadn't happened before and which rocked and which (I believe) should happen again.

Unfortunately for the last item on the list, I believe the next stage of the Novel Revision Plan might involve notecards. Which I own--once when I had a brief animation craze I asked for a whole bunch of notecards and a lightbox for my birthday, and I've hardly ever used any of them, so this aspect of the Plan might just be "I should really use some of those sometime"--but they're at the house I won't be at until a couple of days from now. So.

(Also I'm not really completely certain that the way I started thinking about last summer's novel is the best way to revise it. And "As Large as Alone" is still out, and I really want to have my copies of the Oresteia and Medea to hand when I'm revising "The Bodies of Erinyes", and you know what, I need another writing project.)

236 / 350


Flipping through a book catalog this evening, I stopped at a book called "The Tests of Time: Readings in the Development of Physical Theory". It's the discoveries of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Faraday, Maxwell, Einstein, Bohr, and Hubble in their own words--but when I glanced at I thought that it was going to be their discoveries retold in each other's styles. So, quantum theory told as Galileo would have understood it, or big bang theory as Copernicus might have written it up... I kind of wish that book existed.

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