November 29, 2002

I fucking did it.

50,129 words, one day under the wire. I'd do a little dance if it weren't oh-God-thirty in the fucking morning.

Holy shit.

Now I must go and bask in the purple goodness of my "Winner" bar.


November 26, 2002

Hump day of the short T-day week, and none too soon, either. I am feeling mighty goofy these days. All them words'll do that to a feller.

Not to mention probably still being in the red as far as sleeping-to-waking-hours ratios go, not that I'd change a thing in that regard.

This week's writing going slower than I'd like. Feh. Probably have to do work on it over Thanksgiving, but so it goes. Now I'm just anxious to close in on the ending just to see if Greg's got my number as much as he believes he does. I do it all for the fans, you know.

Hoping to do some recording on the weekend, even if just a bit of noodling around and trying to be Coil. My between-writing meditation the last couple of days has been to go and play lots of the cover tunes I know, or am learning; to that end, I printed out the lyrics to Current 93's "They Returned to Their Earth," which is a really lovely song, though whether or not I'd ever subject an audience to all six and a half minutes of surreal Tibet imagery without some nice backing violin or something is iffy. (But tempting nonetheless - some of those lines are really killer, even if I have no friggin' idea what old David is going on about, as with most C93. And I get a real kick out of an ambiguous opening line like "When serpents come/ They cover the Christ thorn.") And I'm in the process of learning "Pavanne," which makes me a happy bear indeed. Also for some reason got the urge to add some more Morrissey tunes to my repertoire, as if it's all not depressing enough, though when I looked up "Will Never Marry" and "My Love Life" I got that sinking feeling that came when I found out that the verses of Counting Crows' "Round Here" are in G - just G, no changes, and if you can't play that shimmery little arpeggio then it all sounds like aaaaass - they're like that, kinda. I'm probably being told, somehow, that happily married people have no damn business covering the Moz.

Gah. Morrissey songs. It must be November. Very nearly not, though. How utterly distressing. Now I'll have to go play "Everyday Is Like Sunday" anyway.

November 25, 2002

I Go, I hCome Back Again

Tired. Sore. Loopy. God knows, probably malnourished too.

I had a lovely weekend.

New York is, somehow, less intimidating in person. There's an awful lot of it, though. It's not the kind of place I now could have a go at alone. Considering the labyrinthine routes one takes just getting into the damn subway station, I can see myself quickly giving in to a gibbering disorientation very quickly. But anyway.

Busses are a really fine way of getting places if you're not wealthy or in a terrible hurry; they're about as comfortable as anything can be that has lots of people packed into a small space moving very fast. However, and this is critical: PEE BEFOREHAND. Do not be reassured that the Greyhound has a little bathroom in the back. If you're anything like me, trying to relax the requisite muscles while simultaneously hanging on for dear life as the vehicle pitches like a ship in a gale is well-nigh impossible. Yeah, I know you can just sit down, but at that point the loss to your dignity is just as bad as the motion problem, or has the same effect at any rate, at least if you're as neurotic as I am about such indelicacies. So it goes.


Spyder is about as cool as a person should be allowed to be, which isn't exactly surprising, but is very nice nonetheless. I wound up having one of those days where you walk around having to remind yourself that you actually haven't known who you're hanging out with for years and years. Easily already one of my favorite people, and fun in that easy way that I value highly in a friend; we spent all day doing ... not much of anything except going to cafes and comic book stores and walking the streets of the city, and I had such an amazingly good time that the day just flew. All of which more or less goes to show that my theory that smart, talented tough-chick artists are not a thing my life can have too much of has not been disproven.

(And while I'm on a roll counting my blessings, a side note is due my lovely wife, not just for being a smart cool tough chick herself, but also for being the kind of person who doesn't blink at the thought of me gallivanting around a city many miles away with another one. And for being the sort of spouse who, when I come home and she asks me, "Is she cute?" I get to say "Yes," and there are no Consequences. I mention this mostly because the memory is still all too vivid, despite the intervening years, of previous circumstances with an ex who shall be protected by anonymity, wherein there would have been a number of Consequences, one of which probably would have been my never ever going to New York alone in the first place. And that would've been the reasonable part. Ah, something too much of this. In any case, thank you, sweetheart. Being trusted is a beautiful and loving thing, and don't think I value it lightly.)

I got back on the bus at Port Authority last night at 11, realizing that about twenty-four hours had gone by bookended by bus stations and that I'd been awake for most of them. I listened to the last handful of tracks on Disc Alpha of All Dolled Up Like Christ and promptly fell asleep (and let me tell you, "Lucifer Over London" is damned surreal as lullabies go, and not for the faint of heart), waking up just in time to arrive at Union Station a handful of hours later. I came home at almost exactly four, to the reassuring sight of Matt's enormous shoes under the coffee table - Stacy's always happier to not have to sleep in the apartment alone - and my body, which I had pummeled into submission all day by making it walk more than it had in a very, very long time, scored a final and decisive victory. I slept long and well.

And I later saw the other side of 41K on the novel. Making it a kind of banner couple of days all around.

Three-day week up ahead, which always makes Sundays feel less depressing somehow. On the other hand, it's nearly Thanksgiving already, and that just feels wrong. Somewhere in there, I had a November. I'm going to have to request some written reports of it afterwards, just to find out what the hell happened.

November 21, 2002

MS Word tells me I busted through 39K a little while back. It very nearly makes the back pain and the bruises on the forehead feel worth it.

So - Part Two is done. Onto Part Three.

It's odd - sometime back in September or October while I was contemplating this project and doing outlines and such, I had that clever idea of using King Crimson songs for the part-titles, and went through all my Crim CDs looking for ones that seemed to suggest the kind of story I wanted to tell, and framed my (very vague) outline that way. And the part-titles stayed, but the plot has become very different than the one I kinda-sorta first had in mind. And I think the changes have been for the better. Weird, what certain things end up saying to you the longer you hang around them. Thanks, Mr. Fripp!

Anywhoo, I've had some moments in this I'm very proud of. I look forward to seeing the shape of it when all's over. (Going to be a LOT bigger than 50K, though. I wonder if, at close-to-40, I'm even halfway to the end.)

I think one of the benefits of a project like this (and there are many) is the way you end up surprising yoursefl by letting go as much as you can. It's a feeling I've had with my work before, and one of the things I like best about writing, but never this frequently on the same project.

Some of my surprising moments have been tertiary characters I grew to be very unexpectedly fond of. I really, really like Fra Myron, who's in all of two brief scenes, and he just eats up the scenery in both of them - entirely deadpan, with a truly great bit-part actor's complete professionalism. He really knew exactly what he was there for, and he did it consummately well - every time he'd dictate one of his lines to me, I'd get a big old grin on my face out of it.

And I loved discovering last night that Jenny Haniver's idea of a soppy romantic goodbye is "Goddammit, you come back to me, Branleigh, or I'll never fucking forgive you, do you hear?"

And it ain't over yet. I'm just over 20% from the finish line still. The last mad rush commences.

Twenty-four hours from now, or a smidge less, I'll be on my way to be on my way to NYC - "on the road that goes to the road," as my sainted grandfather says. Prepare the coffee I.V.

But first - network training tomorrow. Soon I shall be a guru too. And as my geek factor increaseth, so may my fortunes. Given a sufficient amount of caffeine and scones, anyway.

And before that, a few more words for the night, and bed. Mmmmm - bed. Wooch.

It's a hard life, all this Art, but one does what one must.

November 20, 2002

At some point last night, after typing out a trio of scene-break asterisks, I stopped to look up a name, and found myself ten minutes later asleep at my desk.

Somehow, this makes me feel like a Real Writer now. I couldn't tell you why.

Mostly, I think it means I should lay off the after-work Yuenglings until, say, December. If I just kept enough cold soft drinks around, this kind of thing would NEVER happen.


Looking forward to NY on Saturday (though, as Stacy pointed out, it's a "day trip" thay actually spans three days, counting my insane hours to and from), and stocked up on emergency gear last night at the Tar-jay - hate to be caught dead halfway to Port Authority with dead batteries in my CD player, you know. Food and sleep I can do without, and probably shelter, but without my White Willow I might just spontaneously combust.

Especially looking forward to a visit to the famous Jim Hanley's, which acclaimed ubercool game-writer Gareth-Michael Skarka says very nice things about in his weblog of late; Spydey old girl, it seems you've got your foot in the door at the best. Wooch, indeed!

I learned a coupla days ago that I get to go to a big training session on Friday, which is in Silver Spring and thus closer to home, and that I don't have to go in to work afterwards. Huzzah! Which means that my Friday will officially end at 1, and I can go right home and catch up on my word count.

Sleep, I mean. Of course I meant sleep. Gaaaaah.

The Last Dark Art looks like a late-runner this month - of course, I just learned this morning that I was scheduled to run this week, and not next week like I'd convinced myself. But those guys at RPGnet are very nice, and are letting me get my shit together on this ("the New York Times this ain't," quoth Aeon). I guess if anyone understands geek-time, it's such as they.

Current word count: Um, 34 and a bit
Current mood: Hungry. Lean Pockets beckon.
Current soundtrack: Cocteau Twins, "Sea, Swallow Me"

At the halfway mark, a damn good week all 'round.

November 18, 2002

The Seven Seals are Revealed at the End of Time as Pages and Pages of Vaguely Coherent Prose

Sometime in the bleary quiet darkness of the witching hour last night, I reached 32k.

I might make it. Probably. Maybe. Gaaaah.

I have, more or less, a week and a half. This is factoring in Thanksgiving, and my trip to New York, and random unscheduled slacking. It may be close. But my hopes are high.

... The Drunkprose, the Shitprose, the Pornprose, the Caffeineprose, the Deafprose, the Angstprose and the OhSoSoprose

I had to fight with it a bit, for a while there, especially on Saturday. But some good developments found their way into the text, and I'm liking the shape the story is taking. And at least one thing is going to happen to Jenny Haniver this time around that I had no idea was coming when I started. It's a capricious art.

"And all shall be well. Or not."

I'm told that if I don't try and publish it when I'm done, such efforts will be made without my consent. Gaaaah. Somehow, at the thought of trucking my big old manuscript around, the words "Look out, Charles de Lint" spectacularly failed to cross my mind. But we shall see.

In other news: saw Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Friday, following a big ol' eating orgy at Fuddrucker's ("Most Amusingly Named Restaurant for People Whose Sense of Humor Didn't Make it Much Past Thirteen") and some odd-and-end shopping in Rockville. Went into Tower and they were playing the new Porcupine Tree, which made me feel all gooey inside. (Oh yes, it shall be mine.) And the movie was damn fine too; good old Ken Branagh was kind enough to only eat up the scenery he was supposed to, and the Basilisk was truly, truly kickass. And I sat there in my big scarf among all those excited young people and felt very wizardy indeed.

The extremely-limited-edition CD-single of "One of Those Nights" made its way safely to NYC, and no one freaked the hell out any further about my following it up there at the end of this week, and so I am content. I get to spend the next few days, in between mad rushes of hammering out pages and pages of Gothy urban fantasy, deciding what handful of items are most necessary to have on my person for a day in the Even Bigger City, and forcing them all into my trusty shoulder-bag, and wishing like hell I had a Martin Backpacker. Le sigh. People talk about traveling light like it's some kind of virtue, and I just don't get it at all, at all.

I've been promised the Best Pizza in New York. If I'm not mistaken, I may have already had the Best Pizza Formerly in New York, Now in West Virginia; I'm excited to see how they measure up. If it's served up by a guy who doesn't know any English beyond "Two slice cheese," it should be pretty damn good indeed.

November 15, 2002

Updated the novel blog last night.

Damn thing's like a Fantasybits Easter-egg hunt. Wooch. So far, I think Vishal's got the best of the in-joke references, though Maija's is pretty damn cool too, if I say so m'self. Literary nods to all my friends!

Rereading the NC-17 stuff revealed it to be marginally more tasteful than I recall it while in the middle of it, which is a side effect, I suppose, of working all pumped up on pooftah coffee late at night. Despite my nervousness, it's really much less Penthouse Letters-ish than my uberselfconscious brain remembers it being, and I only used the c-word once. Still wouldn't send it to my in-laws, though. And heaven knows it may be that much further I need to claw my way up from potential-scary-dude status in the eyes of poor Spyder's mum. Aieee! Perhaps I should send someone more respectable-seeming up to New York next weekend in my place.

Oh, and I broke 25k last night too. Feel the halfway-mark love.

Stacy and Caren and I are off to the Regal Rockville tonight for Harry Potter goodness. Caren shall be converted, oh yes. See what she gets for just showing up for Ken Branagh. Not that that's a bad reason.

The last three days have had "Pavanne" going through my head like nothing else. And Harmony Central doesn't have the chords in their archive. Damn your eyes, Linda Thompson, and that no-good ex of yours too. Gaaaaah. Pavanne, Pavanne, Pavanne.

Oh, wait, Tori's "Icicle" just came up on Winamp. So now I get to think about that all day too. Eep. It's like the universe wishes me to get no actual work done today. Thanks.

Still, who am I to argue?

November 14, 2002


Despite the general hell of Week Two, and the banging-head-on-desk frustration of having fallen somewhat behind of schedule, a couple of breakthroughs:

1). As of Saturday, Part One ended. This is good. Part Two is in full swing now. This is even better. The tale barrels on.

2). As of last night, 23k. Not where I wanted to be, but there's a weekend coming up, ripe with glorious possibility. I may make it yet.

3). Likewise as of last night, my first ever semi-quasi-hot girl-on-girl love scene, which I knew was coming up long ago and was very nervous about, and which has gone pretty well all considered. Good thing, too - I followed those two home two nights ago and spent most of the intervening time (real time, not theirs, which was probably more like half an hour or so) going "Oh, for fuck's sake, get it on already."

And my sensitive-guy guilt at this last is surprisingly low considering how long I've put off doing this sort of thing in a piece of fiction (one I've actually written down, anyway). I think I stopped worrying about how un-PC it might be about the time I quit trying to please anyone except "the kind of people who like to read the kind of thing I like to write." Take that, neurotic hangup! Besides, Uncle Neil never shied away from doing, f'rinstance, mind-spinningly steamy m/m erotic interludes, and he doesn't even like boys. So there.

Haven't posted to the other journal since the weekend, which I must rectify tonight, soon as my nervously- afterglowing couple shut the fuck up and I can wrap the scene. So it goes.

And by the end of the weekend: monsters. Fuckin' cool.

November 07, 2002

Broke 14,000 last night - not bad, if not quite where I'd like to be. Gearing up to put the wraps on the first act.

So far, it's been pretty good. I reread what I've set down already, and it feels only marginally worse than the stuff I do all the time, which might be either good or bad. I'm suspecting I'll have to see the shape of the whole thing before I can really make a judgment on it.

Last night also had a run of housecleaning in anticipation of this weekend's visit from my in-laws, which I find I'm getting a surprising number of warm fuzzies about. I think this is just a good time of year to have company. Plus, I suppose, writing gives me a terribly convenient out for anything that doesn't sound like fun, and needing a break from it likewise for anything that does. Bwa hahahahaha. Maybe I can squeeze in taking Kyle to the comic book store.

It only remains to find some compelling way to convince Stacy's mom that she doesn't want to read my novel, really, trust me. Considering that within about the first five hundred words, Jenny smokes marijuana, thinks about her ex-girlfriend, and does something occult (not to mention that the first thing she says is "Fuck," six times), I stand to lose quite a bit of my nice-guy credibility on the son-in-law front.

And now I must do responsible things to fund my eating habit, and console myself while away from my novel by writing NaNoWriMo haiku.

Slacked off my quota;
I'll do much better tonight.
Hey, The West Wing's on.


November 04, 2002

As of the close of day three, words: 10,313. Cups of hazelnut coffee: Too damn many. Incoherencies: Countless. Sleep: Not enough.

Ai ya. I had a weekend in there, somewhere.

Progress is good, and the truth is I'm fairly happy with what's been tumbling out so far, even with indulging in a bit of the forbidden Regarding Phase. I dunno if it's art or not, but it's fun.

And I seem to have broken, for the time being, the Mary Sue problem with Jenny. I realized that, up until this point, she's only really been seen around people she's dazzling, or staring down, or outwitting, or charming the pants off of. And this time around we're getting a perspective on her, at least some of the time, from some people who think she's a big pain in the ass.

Oh, and I'm putting up the WIP here, which at this first-draft stage feels a lot like doing a public read-through of Hamlet in my underwear. So it goes.

Another election day tomorrow (didn't we just have one of these damn things?), which means the days of running the gauntlet of pamphlets and baby-shaking at the Metro in the morning are about done once again, thank the gods. Today at least brought the boyish charm of Chris Van Hollen, who gets my vote - he is, by all accounts, a genuinely good guy, and supports a lot of the right good-guy stuff (and he gets the endorsement of NOW, which was the real clincher for me). I'll be in his corner come tomorrow, even though his family snapshots are a little creepy, and look like Chris Van Hollen and his Vat-Grown Clones.

Must get to work. Diversity training today. Dammit, I am the diversity around this place.

November 01, 2002

The first 1073 words rolled out last night at midnight, putting me at something like 2% done. Whee!

And off to a good start - I've already saddled Jenny with a broken heart, insomnia, and an ominously cryptic card reading. The hooks are out.

Nonetheless, I'm considering, come the first of December, smuggling myself aboard a plane to Dubai, where I shall find Vishal and smite him thusly: THUSLY. He's already at twice my output, and probably twice my quality. I'm thinking of this, privately, as the Battle of the Big Coats.

Before midnight struck last night, I spent a lovely Hallows evening relaxing in the last hours of the Bright Season, smoking cloves and feeling all warm and pagan. Set out my first "dumb supper" to honor the dead: an empty chair, some water and whisky, a bit of bread and tobacco. The idea is to invite the departed spirits in and lay out the things you'd give a guest to make them feel at home, though in my case they'd've had to be content to hang out with me while I lay on the couch with my copy of GURPS Horror and watched the Courage the Cowardly Dog marathon. But the candles were lit nonetheless, and I hope anyone who showed up had a good time.

(And let me here send out my thoughts for all those now in the Western Lands: Uncle Tim and Aunt Joan, Marty Herson, Vishal's mom, Grandpa Layman, Grandma Mackes and Minerva and Ernest, Ben Morningstar, the victims of the Mad Sniper, the immortal, inimitable Richard Harris, and, not least by any stretch, dear sweet Skeeter. May you all find rest now, and all those I haven't named too. For you, at this season, I offer the words of Death himself, from Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man:

"Lord, we know there is no good order except that which we create. . . There is no hope but us. There is no mercy but us. There is no justice. There is just us. All things that are, are ours. But we must care. For if we do not care, we do not exist. If we do not exist, there is nothing but blind oblivion. . . . Lord, will you grant me just a little time? For the proper balance of things. To return what was given. For the sake of prisoners and the flight of birds.

"Lord, what can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the reaper man?"

And so may it be.)

And at the last hour before midnight, I did my annual rereading of Thomas Ligotti's "The Dreaming in Nortown," a fine October tale for a fine cold night. And all was well.