Thoughts We’ve All Had During #Nanowrimo

While working on my #Nanowrimo novel, the second in the Stupid Humans series, I have a variety of non-writing thoughts I’d like to share. In no particular order, here they are:

 

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  • Why do I do this every year?
  • Why did I give these People tails? I did it in the first book and now I’m stuck with it and what if it wasn’t that great of an idea? (Even if you never gave your characters tails and don’t have a first book in the series, you’ve probably done something you regret earlier in the book, that you’re now stuck with unless you want to rewrite half the book. Which you definitely don’t want to do.)
  • This writing thing is an interesting pastime, but I think I need to find an easier hobby, like climbing Mount Everest without oxygen or baking brownies in the ovens of hell or maybe head-to-toe body piercing.
  • Maybe the tails aren’t half as bad as that last paragraph I just wrote, which I can’t delete because then my word count goes down.
  • Good thing someone invented that delete key. Who did that? They deserve a Nobel prize.
  • Now would be the PERFECT time to try to edit or rewrite or do something to that short story that’s been rejected twice. Fixing that seems a hell of a lot easier than writing the rest of this novel.
  • Fuck this, I should work on that dystopian novel series idea I’ve been kicking around my head instead.
  • I’ve been writing for half an hour, how am I not at 50,000 words yet?

 

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How Nerds Really Spend Saturday Night

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Me, watching #StrangerThings2:
“Bob, you idiot, you know BASIC coding but you don’t know not to walk off and leave the gun behind when you’re being chased by a hungry demagorgon from the Upside Down?
“Run, Bob, run!
“Don’t just stand there and stare at each other, there’s a fucking demagorgon after you, RUN!
“Someone shoot the fucker already!
“Is that the best shotgun they made in 1985? That sucks. Where are the guns from The Matrix? Whoops, wrong era.
“OMFG phones that were attached to walls and you couldn’t put them on SILENT and no caller ID, how did people live like that?
Why is it that Max’s absentee parents are the only ones to notice their kid’s been gone for three days or something?
“Is the old, gray-haired doctor the dude from Seinfeld or the guy from Mad About You, because I know he was on one of those shows before he went gray.”
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Then CBS All Access emailed me that my last payment didn’t go through, probably because Citibank sent me a new card with a totally different number for no apparent reason (I didn’t lose my old one, it wasn’t compromised). Unfortunately that was the credit card I used for Amazon, Paypal, and everything else online, so it’s been a real pain in the ass going in and adding the new card number to everything. Thought I got them all, then CBS sends me this message:
We are having trouble processing your credit card. We don’t want you to miss out on your favorite CBS shows and live TV, so please update your payment information as soon as possible to avoid any interruptions.
So I Google, “When does Star Trek: Discovery return?”
January 7.
Okay, I think I’ll remember to add my new card number in January so I don’t have to pay for December for no reason. HAHAHA, screw you, CBS. Guess the new card thing worked out okay after all.
#StrangerThings2 #HowNerdsSpendSaturdayNight #ArmchairMonsterHunter

Random Thoughts I Have While Watching Stranger Things Season 2

So I’m only on the first episode of Stranger Things Season 2 right now….

  • Imagine a time when you could scrape together a few coins and buy something, or spend two hours in an arcade.
  • The scene in the drug store has me questioning my own reality.

    Bob walks in and asks if they have any trick-or-treat pumpkins in colors besides orange. This is a ruse to get Joyce in the back room so they can make out. It initially also struck me as funny because trick-or-treat pumpkins were all only orange until at least the late nineties/early 2000’s, judging by my own memory of being a kid in the nineties. But as Bob leaves the store room, he points at a green trick-or-treat pumpkin and says, “There’s a green one.” So, are they in some alternate universe 1984 where some trick-or-treat pumpkins are green? Or am I remembering a childhood in an alternate universe where trick-or-treat pumpkin design progressed more slowly (and possibly also coinciding with the Berenstain vs. Berenstein Bears alternate universe, or maybe it’s the other way around)?
  • The drug store scene also had me marveling that back in the eighties, a single person could apparently work one minimum wage cashier job, support two kids, have money for cigarettes and a VCR, and not have to get a second, third, or fourth job like many people only trying to support themselves do today.
  • Mad Max is awesome.
  • When is Nancy going to dump that douchebag Steve?
  • Arcades! They were cool but so is a PS4 and not having to put on pants and leave your house to play video games.

How I Spent My Summer Non-Vacation and How I Plan to Spend National Novel Writing Month #Nanowrimo

Vacation? What the hell is that? Oh yeah, it’s something people do if they have more than five cents left over after paying their bills. Must be nice.

I’ve never taken one of these as an adult as I’ve never had the money. A couple times my parents convinced me to take trips with them to visit relatives, but those ended up being things I needed a vacation from because family.

So what did I do this summer? Well, I watched my friends take vacations through the window of Facebook. One cousin went to Israel and another went to Italy. Yeah, I watched other people post pictures from Europe.

Italy has really blue water.

Italy looks awesome, by the way. They apparently have some seriously nice beaches there. And a Ferrari museum.

Not that I’m jealous or anything.

When I wasn’t watching other people’s trips to exotic places on Facebook, I did some freelance work, which was going well until the end of August. I was getting about 30 hours a week, and I could work whenever I wanted, which was great for a night owl like me. (Back when I had a job, I could never understand how people did the whole 8-5 thing. How do people fall asleep before 3 AM?)

But at the end of August, the client lost their funding for the project, which meant I lost my more-or-less steady paycheck that almost allowed me to pay all my bills. (I also sell stuff online, sometimes more successfully than others.)

So much for that.

So I mostly spent my summer working for very little pay, and watching other people enjoy their vacations on Facebook. In my spare time, I started watching Criminal Minds on Netflix, where I learned that due to all the financial stress in my life, I’m seriously overdue to snap and go on a killing spree. (Seriously, that is an explanation for half the serial killers on that show. “There must have been a stressor that set the unsub off, like loss of a job or financial difficulties….”) Don’t worry, I’ve also watched Orange is the New Black and prison is not the place for me, so I’ll limit my meltdowns to binge-watching Netflix and writing stories in which the people who annoy me get abducted by aliens or publicly humiliated in some awful way.

I did get some writing done this summer, when I wasn’t watching Netflix or throwing an epic pity party for myself. I wrote a couple stories on the theme of artificial intelligence, worked on my current novel-length WIP (work-in-progress), and kicked around other book ideas in my head.

Eventually I decided since I never get to go anywhere, I should go somewhere in my head, so I decided to do #Nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month, again in November. The first time I did Nanowrimo was 2012, when I decided to write my first book, Stupid Humans, in November…

Which I did—I started in November of 2012 and finished in November of 2014.

In my defense, the first draft was 176,000 words, way over the 50K required for Nano. (Also something I won’t be doing again, ever. That’s a lot of fucking words to edit.) So this November I’m going to write a sequel to Stupid Humans, and the word count is going to be a lot lower.

Since my summer “vacation” sucked, tell me about yours. What did you do this summer? Please tell me about something more exciting than what I did.

 

Future Inventions That Will Change the World (I Hope)

I always get my best ideas for stories when I run. Today I did an hour on the treadmill, and I finished this story in my head. I have about 1,300 words written already, but as I was running, I came up with the rest of it.

 

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In fact, I’ve gotten the ideas for most of my books and short stories while running, or at least walking. Rarely have I had a good idea while sitting on my ass. Walking around the mall, looking for stuff to buy and resell, is another great time for me to have ideas and write scenes in my head.

The problem, though, is transferring them to my computer screen.

Like today. Today I was going to finish that story while I still had a good adrenaline rush going. But I couldn’t do that, because I had to do real work first—you know, the kind of thing you actually get paid for. Not well, but it’s better than nothing. So first I had to sit down and write three articles about legal issues in a warm, beachy state for a client. I’d rather be at the beach myself, but I don’t live in Fantasyland, either.

I was hoping it would only take a couple hours, but it took longer, because my mom kept interrupting me. Yeah, I live with my parents. I have two college degrees, no job, and struggle to eke out something resembling a living by buying and reselling stuff on the internet. Because that’s working out so great, I also do a lot of freelance writing, which is why I had to write those fascinating articles about prenuptial agreements.

Which my mom interrupted by asking me how to attach a picture to an email on my dad’s phone.

And then she came back to ask how to send it. (“Look for a button that says SEND, Mom!”)

And then I tried to explain to her that I was writing about prenuptial agreements because MONEY, and she went away.

I was working on the best way to sell people on a prenup (“It’s a really a great way to say I love you, I just love my money more!”) when she came back five minutes later because the eBay app crashed, so I told her to just reboot the phone and try again in a few minutes…

And when I finally got done with the damn articles, I still needed to do some work on my internet reselling.

And I never did finish that story that I finished in my head. At least not in the real world.

All this got me thinking about something I’ve been hoping someone would invent for a long time: A levitating keyboard that you can type on while walking. It just floats in front of you at the perfect height for typing. And I guess your tablet or phone floats above it so you can see the screen. I mean, do you know how many books I could have finished writing while on the damn treadmill? Or walking around the mall?

This is at the top of my list of Future Inventions That Will Change the World, right after the telepathic keyboard (think of all the writing I could do), calorie-free chocolate cake that tastes like normal chocolate cake, carrots that taste like donuts, a computer that can warn me when I’m about to spill something on it, and a treadmill that takes dictation and doesn’t misunderstand every other word like Google does on my phone. Also, I really want some sort of VR chip that allows you to see and hear TV shows in your head, without anyone having any idea you’re tuning them out and watching TV inside your own brain.

I have a feeling some of these might end up in a future story of mine. What future inventions would you like to see?

This is Why The Twilight Zone is Still Relevant Today

I don’t watch a lot of old black-and-white TV shows. I like some classic shows, like Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I have a hard time enjoying anything made earlier than the eighties. For one thing, the writing is so stilted and not-conversational (or at least, not-conversational by today’s standards). Often the pacing is slower than shows today too.

But I always watch the #TwilightZoneMarathon, every New Year’s and Fourth of July when it airs on Syfy. Keep in mind, for someone who loves scifi, I don’t actually watch that channel very often because most of their programming consists of wrestling, ads for male enhancement products, and made-for-TV movies about monsters chasing people. I prefer shows with something resembling a plot—which is why I’m still pissed they canceled Incorporated, probably the best original show they’ve had since Battlestar Galactica—so I always enjoy the #TwilightZoneMarathon.

Although some of these episodes do suffer from old-fashioned dialogue, and the special effects are, well, barely existent, I’m always struck by how relevant some of the plots are today. Some are only personally relevant—”The Bewitchin’ Pool” is an episode that will always speak to every kid who wished they could escape their parents’ constant fighting, but never got their own bewitching pool. (Even if you haven’t been a kid in years.)

But others are socially relevant. Last night’s marathon started with “Hocus Pocus and Frisby,” an episode whose main character immediately reminded me of someone we all know. Watching the first episode in the Syfy Twilight Zone Marathon 2017 reminded me of how, despite being more than fifty years old, an episode can seem like it was made yesterday. Mr. Frisby loves to make up stories about how great he is, how smart he is, how he invented things and solved problems he couldn’t possibly have solved. Fortunately, Frisby is a poor guy living in a small town, not a famous billionaire, so nobody is stupid enough to believe his bullshit.

Well, except the aliens. They take everything literally and decide to kidnap Frisby because he’s clearly the most intelligent and accomplished human being ever. After escaping the aliens, he tries to tell the story to his friends, who naturally assume it’s just another one of his lies.

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Why is this episode relevant today? Because in a world full of fake news, we should all be more skeptical of everyone and everything. If your neighbor or coworker or the guy who checks you out at the grocery store started spouting about how he was the best at everything, did every important thing in the world, and could fix every problem around, would you believe him? Most likely, you’d use WebMD to diagnose him with a personality disorder, or just tell him to shut up. So if you wouldn’t believe bizarre claims of superiority from the average person, why would you believe some rich, famous person who says the same thing?

There are other recurrent themes that keep popping up on the show, also still relevant today. One thing that always impressed me was how, in spite of the technology or aliens or magical beings that popped up on a show, the plot usually revolved around the main character’s fight with his or her own demons. Sometimes these played out in a fight with a magical item, like a talking doll or a ventriloquist’s dummy. But those objects were only echoing the protagonist’s own fears. The brilliant thing about The Twilight Zone was it did such a good job of showing how we’re all the most vulnerable to our own insecurities.

This played out in groups, as well. In episodes like “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” and “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” aliens arrive, but humans are still the architects of their own destruction. The humans quickly descend into bickering and paranoia, accusing each other of being aliens, while the actual aliens just sit back and watch.

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But maybe the most relevant episode of all today is “It’s a Good Life,” in which an innocent-looking little boy terrorizes a small town. Everyone has to stand around and smile and nod and act like everything is awesome no matter what stupid thing he’s done—like making it snow on the crops they need for food. Of course, if anyone says anything bad to him, he can wish them into the cornfield, where they turn into a jack-in-the-box-like toy or something. Yeah, okay, that really sucks and all, but what everyone in this nightmarish town misses is that the little brat’s power doesn’t really come from his ability to wish people into the cornfield. Sure, it’s a scary thing, but what if they all stood up to him? Could he wish them all into the cornfield? Maybe, but then what would he do? Who would he play with? Who would he terrorize? Without his frightened subjects, what power would he have? Ultimately, he would have to wish them all back out of the cornfield.

Which episodes do you think are most relevant today?

 

 

A Klingon in Congress? Why the Hell Not?

Recently I read that actor J. G. Hertzler, who played General Martok on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is going to run for Congress in New York. Apparently he plans to campaign in character as Mark Twain.

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That’s fine if you’re into classics (I’m not), but I’d really like to see him campaign as General Martok. Hey, we already have a reality show host for president, why not a Klingon in Congress? I’m sure we can find a Klingon language translator at the UN, right? Plus he might come in handy if the reality show host gets us into World War 3. Better yet, Martok might be able to do what the rest of Congress can’t—get rid of the reality show host. All he has to do is say, “Mr. President, your tiny little hands can’t handle holding the Sword of Kahless,” and watch that guy implode in the biggest Twitterstorm ever.

This got me thinking about other fictional characters I’d like to see in Congress. (Yes, I know Hertzler isn’t really Martok, but he isn’t really Twain either, so let’s just go with it.)

  • Quark. You have to admit, Congress would be the perfect place for him! The lobbying, the bribes, the backstabbing, the pettiness, the back room deals…whoa, wait a minute. Holy shit, I think Congress has been infiltrated by the Ferengi! I always thought that Ryan guy had weirdly large ears—and don’t even get me started on all the big  heads in Congress…
  • Q. He doesn’t need to be in Congress all the time, he just needs to show up whenever things there get boring. Then he can wittily tell them all  how boring and predictable they are.
  • The Grand Nagus. Wait, never mind, he’s definitely already there…
  • Elim Garak. Not so hung up on money, but he’s a master at lies, deceit, half-truths….
  • Spock. JUST KIDDING! Clearly Congress is no place for someone logical.
  • Captain Janeway. If she can use the war between Species 8472 and the Borg to her advantage, maybe she can do something with the squabbling morons in Congress. If that doesn’t work, we’ll just send them all to the Delta Quadrant…

How about you? What fictional character would you like to see in Congress and why?