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Halfway! If this is as much fiction as gets written tonight, I am okay with that. I have done a bit of reading, and been stressed about a number of things (applications! story submissions! readings being assigned late and not uploaded as pdfs and all the copies being checked out of my library!), and walked to the grocery store to lay in supplies against Possible Huge Storm. And I am halfway done with Whisper-Trail, which doesn't mean all that much in emotional ways but is still a nice milestone.

There was a plan as to how I was going to finish this novel by early December, but that is not going to happen unless I NaNo the remaining 40k-or-so, and, well, that's unlikely what with thesis and the fact that Hamlet goes up the last weekend of November and so on. (Though if I brought my laptop to full runs and so on I could probably get a lot done; Rosencrantz is not really onstage that much.)

Other fun thing that's happened recently: class schedules are up for next semester, a.k.a. Alena's Last Semester of Undergrad. I should probably email a couple of professors, but there is half a chance I could end up taking two history of the book/reading classes at Smith next semester to counterpoint the Electronics that's required for my major. That...would be a pretty awesome schedule, really.
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Words! Actual words! My Tuesday seminar was canceled this week, so I ended up spending an hour and a half at a cafe with a cookie and tea. I established a new writing notebook--my old one, which I began just before leaving for England this summer, was pretty much full--and then wrote a Whisper-Trail scene in it, which I typed up this morning before class. Now I ought to write the next scene, but I am not totally certain what that is.

In the meantime, drafted part of my thesis's introduction tonight. It's got [citation needed] scattered throughout the text, and some of it's a bit mushy, but that's okay. It exists, which is what matters, really. Something! Something of a start, something to hang on to.

Other than that, not much is going on. Had rehearsal tonight for Hamlet; was reminded, yet again, of how huge a shock it's going to be when we do the full run-through. I'm Rosencrantz, see, and so all of my rehearsals so far have been "add more physical comedy, add more silly, no, more silly than that..." (This evening I played the Ministry Of Silly Walks clip for my Guildenstern.) I am told the rest of the play is, well, rather different.

The Halloween orchestra concert is Friday night. We are all hoping it is not actually cursed and we do not, like last year, end up pelting across campus terrified in a blizzard with tree limbs falling all around us. (And lose someone's glasses and have no power for two days.) A Halloween orchestra concert with soundtrack music and waltzing is an excellent tradition, and I would hate to have to give it up just because it was cursed.
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This entire entry is about food, cats, and the weather.

Right now, strawberry-rhubarb muffins and strawberry-rhubarb sauce stand cooling in plastic containers. Nom. The magic of baking is, I'd say, somewhere between the point where I put a quart of strawberries and two sticks of rhubarb in my grocery basket and now. Or possibly it stretches through that whole time. Are the muffins inherent in the strawberries and rhubarb, if that is my intent? Quite possibly.

The resident cat attempted to sniff the cooling muffins. Too bad: they are all for humans, none for her. (Resident cat becomes friendlier and friendlier--she now occasionally brushes vaguely against my leg, totally not looking for pets/cuddles, or tips over near my foot to streeeetch. I am amused and slightly charmed by this, but alas am still allergic.)

For last night's dinner, I sauteed chicken in olive oil, added basil and oregano, and then at the last moment chopped up some mixed salad greens, tipped them into the frying pan, and stirred. Meanwhile, Kate made pasta. This meal also qualified as nom. Improvising food is something I find deeply enjoyable.

It's a nice drippy day outside, but I miss the Minnesota thunderstorms of the last couple of weeks of June, the crash and deluge and tornado warnings, how intense the storms get. This is also the time of year for MITY, of course, and I miss sitting in Carnegie Hall with a bunch of writers and peers, making posters about ourselves and having writing time or ridiculous writing exercises. Minnesota weather in late June is all tied up in that too: sitting inside with writer-friends, talking, writing, listening to the storm.

Hardly a week left of June, now. How time does fly.
aamcnamara: (Default)
I should probably not say anything, because it will squeak and run away, but--I have a story.

It has no title yet. It does have names (baby name websites rock) and a list of fairy tales and bits of mythology that I want to use, most of them twisted. I am writing the scenes out of order; it's the first time I have really done that for a story. Usually I get the beginning and write until I get to the end, and then stop. This time? Who knows. I know the style, though, at least vaguely, which should be enough to get me somewhere.

Having a new story is nice.

Also nice: having done the last homework assignment for real analysis. Now there's only the final left! And The Mob's birthday happened recently, so we had a tea party on Sunday, and we baked a lemon cake with frosting which was delicious--people, including me, were shamelessly scraping the pan for crumbs. The weather has been indeterminate but pretty lately: one day I woke up to find that I couldn't see across the quad for the fog. Today it was misty in the morning, but that faded into a gorgeous afternoon to beat all gorgeous afternoons.

In a week, classes will be over. Um. Wow. Excuse me as I run away from that thought...
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The novellously productive thing I did today was, I sat down and went through The Urban Fantasy Novel on Scrivener, tagging all the scenes with location and characters.

My thought is that this will speed up the working-through-motives part. It'll still take sitting down and staring at it for a good long while, but this should help. Which is the main part.

Best of all, tagging things took approximately exactly the amount of time that I had free today from not going to a class where they were (reviewing, for me) learning multiple integrals in spherical coordinates. Which I a) know how to do and b) do not deeply enjoy, so yay!

Other nice things today included autumn. Weather, leaves (falling and fallen-for-scuffing-through), forests, lakes, tea... and I have a huge leaf to wear in my hat. Mostly I go for the tiny leaves, unobtrusive but maybe brightly-colored, red or orange or yellow, but I'm kind of enjoying this wide mottled-brown one.
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Today it rained all the rain. We attempted to not get swept away walking to class, and were mostly successful.

Additionally, I have now seen DEBS, which is a very silly movie--teenage spies, just add lesbians. The supervillain anti-hero woman is the most sensibly dressed of them all.

I actually washed all my dishes today--and last night I finally finished the second Lymond Chronicles book--and today I picked up my ILL books... and read Strong Poison because Sayers is still my favorite. So I feel a little accomplished, even if I didn't work on any novels or do my laundry or anything actually useful like that.

Tomorrow perhaps it will not rain, and I will get some writing done, and maybe actually wash my clothing. Who knows? The days are filled with boundless possibility.
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This morning we had a lovely thunderstorm--possibly the first that we've had since I've been here? (I am not counting the Day Of Weird Weather in which it snowed, hailed, sleeted, rained, thunderstormed. That was just strange.) Rain pouring down and the thunder and lightning... it's kind of nice how I'll get another round of spring, thunderstorms, nice weather once I get back to Minnesota.

Counting strictly and including today, I have four days left on campus. (Not counting the brief bit of Wednesday I'll spend mostly eating breakfast before I leave.) I exist in a halfway land between Packing To Leave and pretending it won't happen. My room is full of boxes half-full of things, but I don't want to work on them. I don't want to repack them, fit everything nicely together. I have plenty of time, right? Anyway, I might need that stuff.

You know. Before Monday morning, when I should tape shut the boxes I'm shipping back home. Or before Tuesday, when I should have all the stuff that I'm storing in safely closed bins. At the latest, before Wednesday morning--when I will pick up my suitcases, drop my key in the box in the entrance hall, and walk out that door.
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Presentation completed. It was the one on fantastic/surreal/numinous elements--basically I argued that people talking about philosophy in fiction find it really useful to put in fantastic elements so they can literalize metaphors and capitalize on known concepts to make ideas easier to understand. It was a two-blackboard presentation, also a two-chalk-breakages presentation.

(I find these useful metrics. My last presentation involved no blackboards and no chalk, let alone the breaking of chalk, so clearly this one was more enthusiastic. Better? Who knows.)

Then I had to finish up my classics work before class, and then I had class, and now I am watching a cappella videos on youtube, because life is too short to spend all my time working on final projects, or, well, something like that.

Today has been another grey day, with peeks of sunshine. The moments of sunshine glow through all the little white flowers on the tree outside my window.

And, well--life, you know, is too short to spend all my time watching videos on youtube. Or even posting on LJ. Maybe I'll go write.
aamcnamara: (alena)
This weekend was lovely but surreal, hours spent backstage in the darkness moving set pieces and finding props bookended with glorious springtime sunshine, green grass and flowers and budding trees, on meal breaks. At one point I had to help move the Freeze Ray around the back of the auditorium; because of how the hall is set up (not for theater productions), this involves going out on the colonnade, where one proceeds down a brick and carved-stone hall with lovely windows on both sides, a dark auditorium to your left and the beautiful spring day on the other. Disorienting, but also one of those nice interstitial places, not quite one thing or the other.

There were longer breaks, too, though, times when we got to emerge completely. I made dandelion crowns with friends and bestowed dandelions on cast and crew when I returned from lunch break on Saturday; at the end of the last show on Sunday, the techies borrowed extra mustaches from the Bad Horse Chorus and leaped out to take bows at curtain.

I spent both days dressed entirely in black, and consequently have deliberately worn nothing black today. I own quite a few black t-shirts, which I enjoy, but wholly black clothes disorient me somehow--I'm not sure if it's the color or the monochromatic part. Monochromatic more, I suspect.

Anyway, so I didn't get any homework done this weekend. Between that and a commitment being abruptly over, suddenly the end of the semester seems so near. Really it's just a few more weeks, and then exams, and home.

And all the ancillary things attendant on that:

I haven't heard anything back from the physics research people--I'm not sure at what point I say "well, whatever" and tell Minneapolis Central that I'll volunteer with them this summer. Probably some point this week, I'm thinking.

Registration for next semester, dorm choosing, room choosing, et cetera. (Financial aid forms for next year!)

Details of how I'll get back, how/where I'll store my stuff out here for the summer--probably most vital when it comes to my plant. My plant is a papyrus plant, large and glorious and demanding constant care (well, mostly just keeping a water bowl filled). I really do not want to just abandon it or throw it out; I've liked having it, this year. But I have no idea what I'll do with it. I have a couple of friends who live around the area, but I'm not sure if any of them would be up for caretaking a plant over the summer.

And, possibly the most difficult, there's coming to terms with the fact that I won't see any of these people for several months. College has been fantastic so far. I love Mount Holyoke; I love the people that I know here; I love living here. I am looking forward to seeing Minnesota and my family and friends there again, but I just don't want to leave.
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Yesterday it rained. Today it rained, too. My socks got wet, and my pants got wet halfway to my knees, and my umbrella was ineffectual in even keeping my coat dry.

It's all worth it, though, seeing the mist rise from the lake last night after dinner. It made everything softer and damper, thickened until you could see the precise cones of light from every streetlamp, and until every path and road looked like it led straight to Fairy. The trees stood dark against the sky, and drops of water hung trembling like jewels from the branches.

Today I spent a lot of time doing things. Which meant I had very little time to relax, take a break, read a little or just be. I went to the True Colors meeting after dinner anyway, half dreading having to produce energy, be social. It turned out to just be hanging-out, and hardly anyone I knew showed up.

Often I find these conditions tiring or frustrating. But this time, no one demanded my participation in the conversation and I felt like I was accepted to just exist there, so I sat in the warmth listening to the rain and other people's conversations and it was nice. It was really nice.

I finished reading House of Leaves. I am not sure whether I admire it greatly or kind of think it isn't quite so awesome as many people make it out to be. Possibly a bit of both. When I have a bit more time, perhaps I will write up a proper post on it.

Not that that is likely to happen anytime soon, as I have committed myself to teching a show next week. It'll be comforting to run about backstage again.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Pursuant to previous post: Oh! Aha. Hmm. Your comments are all both edifying and gracious, and I will have to read them again and think about this for a while. Many points that people made make a lot of sense.

I suspect that I have been greatly spoiled in the point of independent bookstores, growing up in Minneapolis (where there are a lot of independents, several of which I live near for various values of near) and then coming to college (where there is a pretty nice independent bookstore right across the street).

---

Brain a bit scattered from midterms et cetera. Yesterday I skived off studying for an hour and a half after dinner, was an accomplice to filching a tray from the campus center, and went sledding on the big hill behind one of the dormitories. Today it rained, and I did a presentation and wrote a midterm.

Tomorrow they claim it will snow again, and maybe I will have collected enough bits of brain to work on the paper, essay, novel critiques that are due next week. And, oh, decide if I'm going to apply for that physics REU that takes freshman that I found online today and, if so, politely and awkwardly approach my professors after class to see if they will write me recommendations. Hurray.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Woke up this morning to a winter wonderland: thick heavy snow over everything, along branches and roofs and blanketing the green.

It still looks nice out the window, now. But it's warmed up some, and the snow on the paths has melted into two inches of a wet slurry that wants into your socks.

--as it turns out, my boots aren't waterproof.

At any rate, it's a day for curling up inside to read. Unfortunately I have work in an hour. At least it's unlikely that anyone will forge their way across campus with a desperate need for rare books. (I like my work. I suspect however I will not enjoy it if I have to spend three hours wearing wet socks.)

It's supposed to turn back into snow later. Maybe the slush will freeze and we can spend the evening sliding around on it in our boots!

(That makes me sound aggravated, but I'm not, really. I do think it will be fun. My friends not from wintry places may or may not concur.)
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Short story progress! Again!

Words today: 498
Total word count: 2262
Projected total: 3500? Maybe?

Things that might happen this afternoon:
- working on other short stories
- reading a book
- writing up an outline of my novel

Also, it rained this morning. Listening to the rain is one of the most soothing things I know.
aamcnamara: (window)
So there was no writing yesterday. It was one of those days. It felt like autumn, not the middle of July--cool and chilly and overcast. I got up too early, was in rural Wisconsin for the morning picking basil and peas and generally helping out around a farm, hung out with my friends and drank scalding tea to chase away the chill in the afternoon, and went to see the new Harry Potter movie in the evening.

The movie was all right. It never really drew me in, which probably has something to do with how it was made and something to do with where I am right now in relation to the Harry Potter books. Overall, I was okay with the movie, which is intriguing because the sixth book was the one I disliked the most.

I had an hour to myself between the afternoon and evening engagements, and spent it mostly staring at the walls, as far as I can tell. Objectively, I could have gotten some writing done then. Subjectively, it wouldn't have been a good idea. My mind was too full of other things, and I didn't have enough time to lay all of them aside; and right now I'm in the middle of writing a Large Active Scene which will soon come to a Big Decision. And I have no idea which way my character will choose.

So those are all the reasons that I didn't write yesterday.

Today, however, I have nothing whatsoever to do. So far I've eaten breakfast and read the rest of the fifth Dark Tower book. (Soon I should go to the library and check out a few more of those.) At some point today I think it is safe to assume that I will be outside somewhere in the sunlight with my laptop, writing.

I get the feeling that I will not be working on this first draft for very much longer. Yesterday was a nice break, and potentially a much-needed one. Now I am taking in the deep breath and diving for the end.
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Turns out there probably is, in fact, enough in the rest of this novel to get to 80k. At least, if the current pace is anything to go by.

I discovered a terrace at my local library. It is rather bare, but it does have a table and some chairs which one can move around and sit in the sun with. I am not sure if I would use it again, or recommend it, as it is not nearly as enjoyable as sitting under the tree on their front lawn--no shade, no trees, no grass.

However, it was a good expedition. And clearly I've been getting something done, so all is well, even if I have had to squint at the screen because of the sun.

The end of the novel is coming up rather sooner than I had expected. Both wordcount- and story-wise. I am not sure if I want to be done with this world. I know that I should probably enjoy this feeling while it lasts, because eventually the point will come in revisions when I hate it, but it is still going to be sad when I have to type "the end".

All I can say is that I'd better have something else lined up to start working on when I finish this, or I will be lost.
aamcnamara: (Default)
So I got the International Baccalaureate Diploma. (Scores went up today.) The proudest part of that was probably the B grade I got on my extended essay, which I posted about here and which was on DUST by [livejournal.com profile] matociquala and PARADISES LOST by Ursula K. Le Guin. I didn't really ever get any guidance on it from my adviser (which, all right, I knew would probably happen when I picked him), and I wrote it in two drafts, in furious weeks of rereading and taking notes and restructuring. They were awesome weeks.

Personally? I think it's awesome. But I wasn't sure that the IB graders would think the same. So I'm very happy about that.

Beautiful weather this whole weekend. I was up near a lake--got to hang out in a pontoon boat, drive a pontoon boat, crash through the woods on an island and discover picnic tables and a forest of milkweed plants. My mom made a good half-gallon of fantastic lemonade, which we are still consuming. There were lots of lovely wildflowers, whipping past on the drive up, on the island, just around. There were many many berries consumed. (This is one of my favorite eating times of the year. Fresh local berries? Yum.) There was a fire, and marshmallows, and deliciousness resulted.

There was time for me to sit out on a dock and read, to write and to stare at the water and think. Or just stare at the water.

And today? Today I have not decided yet what will happen. I know what the next little bit of the novel is, so I might write that. I might work on the poem that's started to climb out of my brain with its little spindly claws, or the couple of short story ideas that dripped out of my mind. (I know I shouldn't--I have a novel to finish--but I might.) At some point I'll go through some slush for Ideomancer.

After reading [livejournal.com profile] matociquala's post here, I have been thinking about writer peer groups, and what is my peer group, and what are peer groups anyway? I seem to have a lot of writer acquaintances, but not very many writer friends.

And some people, I think (or hope?), feel the same way. I meet people at cons and think they're cool, friend them on LJ or whatever, and end up just reading their posts and being uncertain if I should comment, because maybe I just had a tiny conversation with them or maybe not even that. Maybe I comment, and they maybe remember who I am, or maybe they don't, and anyway it fizzles out.

So! If you are a writer, and want writer friends--i.e., me and whoever else comments on this post--comment! (Hey, it might not work out, but it's something.)

pushing on

Jul. 2nd, 2009 04:35 pm
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53022 / 80000


...which is with deleting the ~1,000 words yesterday that went completely wrong. I didn't get any more writing done that day, but today went better. Some days are like that.

Fortunately, some days are also like this.

(And the thousand wrong words are saved in my Notes file, because they may someday be useful in something else--there's a short story in there, for one thing--but they are definitely not a part of this.)

It also doesn't hurt that today broke the spell of chilly, autumnal days here. Sunlight always helps.

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