Monday, July 23, 2007

A Step Forward

Last week was one of the most exhausting of the entire summer--and I'd think it would have been just the opposite. This was when the summer was supposed to have slowed down! I spent a large portion of last week trying to scare up ads for my younger daughter's feis program book, and that involved a lot of running around. A feis (pronounced "fesh") is an Irish dancing competition, and getting ads for the program book is part of how our group will meet the expenses associated with it.

On Monday I went to my chiropractor and had her look at my foot as well as my back and neck. I was expecting her to have to pull the big toe back into place since I'd corked it last Saturday. I was even expecting her to pull a few other toes back into place as well, since something had been not quite right with the middle of my foot for maybe a couple of years now. She did all that, no problem. But then she told me that she thought I was getting a bunion on that foot. That's where the big toe starts to lean over toward the other toes, and the joint at the bottom starts to form a sort of knobby protrusion which can be increasingly painful and may eventually make it hard to walk. I had no idea there was a problem. She told me that I needed to do something about it now, before it gets worse, so I went home and did some research to find out what my options are. Basically I came up with two: surgery or a brace. I choose the brace, since this thing is in such an early stage that I doubt a surgeon would even want to operate yet. (Also, I'm a wimp.) So now I get to wear a toe brace for several hours each day or night and see if I can stave off this problem getting worse. I'm ticked off about it, but as problems go, it could be a lot worse. I'll take a bunion over a fatal disease any day.

I managed to get the new scene for Chapter Ten put together. I had a hard time wrestling it into being, but now that it's mostly there I think it'll work well. It occasioned an additional reshuffling of scenes, and now I need to go through and look at all the things it rearranged so there are no timing issues--characters knowing certain things before they're supposed to, etc. But from here on out, things should go a lot more smoothly. At this rate I won't get the rewrite finished by the end of this month, but hopefully I won't have to go too far into August. I really don't want to take more than another two or three weeks on this. I'm ready for it to be done, so I can move on to the next book. (Or finish the third book of the Oantran Triad.) So, back to work for me....

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Self Sabotage

Well, I finally did it. Lost a scene I'd written because I was hasty and careless. Yesterday I took the laptop to a Moxie Java and used it to reorganize Chapters 10 through 20. The trouble was, I'd already done a lot of that work on the PC at home and didn't realize it, so I ended up doing the same thing twice for no good reason. There was some benefit to it because I also made a few notes in the various chapters on the laptop that I didn't have on the desktop PC, and further refined my reorganization of 10 - 20. But my big stupid mistake came after I'd started to transfer the newly updated files from the laptop to the PC. I only had to change a few of them, and Chapter Ten on the PC contained a partial scene that the laptop did not. I thought I was being careful to transfer only things that had changed substantially on the laptop and improved the chapters in question. Then I realized that I'd overwritten the PC's Chapter Ten with the laptop's Chapter Ten--and in the process lost the partial scene that had been on the PC. Gone forever--no way to get it back. I'll never know whether the partial scene was particularly good or not, because it had been a little while since I'd read it through--but good or bad, it's gone forever. Now instead of polishing and finishing it, I have to rewrite it completely. They say that you can always fix bad writing, but you can't fix a blank page. Don't I know it! Sheesh.

Oh, and to add injury to insult, I fell asleep in the office's comfy armchair while I was waiting for a downloaded program to supposedly recover my overwritten files (starts the process but won't finish unless you buy it--very frustrating little exercise in doomed hope). Then I woke up suddenly with a sharp pain in my left big toe. Seems I'd kicked out in my sleep and whacked the toe on a fan which was on the floor in front of the chair. Hurt like a you-know-what, but didn't turn purple, so I guess it's not broken. But I've been limping all day because it hurts when I try to move it much or put any weight on it. I can walk normally, but at about a quarter of normal speed.

Apparently, I am my own worst enemy.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Power Lunch

Today (Friday) one of my Moxie crit partners and I got together for lunch and brainstorming. Both were excellent. I think we both went home with what we came for, which is always the best end to any brainstorming session--or any lunch, for that matter. I'd been spinning my wheels on this revision, but over the last two days I finally started to get a better sense of the road ahead. I think now I can finally write my way out of the corner. It's great when you have a sounding board for ideas--someone who can say, "No, that won't work because you did thus-and-such back in chapter seven," or "Don't forget, you still need to add this-or-that plot element, like we discussed last time." The input from another person always helps put things back into perspective. It's like a dress rehearsal for your wild-*** ideas before they go onto the page. Or if you're short of wild-*** ideas, then it may generate some--for all participants and all novels present at the table. That is my preferred version of a power lunch.

Monday, July 09, 2007


My car now officially runs on ethanol. We just finished the conversion today. It has a lot more power than it used to; I like being able to accelerate faster, especially from a complete stop. They took a video of the conversion process. As soon as I have a link to the video online, I'll post it for those who are curious about what's involved. Please note that the conversion of the Ford 500 in particular is a little more complicated than most, simply because of how the car is put together and what it takes to reach the fuel injectors. The conversion process took about an hour for an experienced mechanic to do. Most conversions take a lot less time and don't necessarily require a mechanic. But then, that's Phouka for you. Can't be anything simple with this car, can it?

And of course, being Phouka, it had to pull at least one more little trick. This time it was the right rear turn signal. The Huz didn't notice when he drove it because he doesn't normally pay attention to the specific behaviors of my car, but when I drove the two of us to a movie tonight, I noticed right away that the right turn signal was going about twice as fast as the left. When we got home, we checked it out. Sure enough, the right rear turn signal main bulb is burnt out. Sigh. And we can't figure out how to get to the bulb to replace it--at least, not without the Chilton's manual. Can you imagine me having to take the car to the dealer to get a stupid bulb replaced? Argh. The kids would say "That's Pah-hooooka!"

On the writing front, I've been shuffling scenes, considering throwing out some and altering others, trying to get all the stuff from Chapter Ten through Chapter Twenty arranged so it all makes sense. I need to write a whole new scene or two for Chapter Ten. Meanwhile, the Moxie want me to throw out a scene that I thought brought an important sense of closure to one of the subplots, so I'm considering whether to throw it out in total or try to compress it a little and save the most important parts of it so it doesn't drag. I'm getting a little frustrated with this revision because without specific details on what parts really don't work in the storyline, it's feeling a lot like I'm trying to bake a cake without a recipe. The middle's soft. Okay, so I keep poking it with a toothpick, but I'm not sure which parts are baked and which parts are still doughy. Help!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Living Lean in the Forest

I just got back from a 5-day camping trip. Tent camping, not RV. We spent a good part of our second day gathering wood for the fire, cutting it, splitting it, and piling it. Now picture me at 5'0" and my husband at 5'11" on either side of an old fashioned crosscut saw, sawing away at a downed log like a pair of lumberjacks. My arms and legs hurt the next day; I woke up stiff and sore from using muscles that normally don't get a lot of exercise. Between that and pumping drinking water at a hand pump, swimming in the lake, etc., I imagine I'd soon get into amazing shape if I had to live like that for very long. Somehow I doubt the pioneers tended to be either out of shape or overweight.

Now here's the kicker: I took the laptop with me. I finished doing my paper edits for Chapter Nine and got all the edits input for Chapters Three through Nine. If I'd had another day or so, I'd probably have been able to write the new scene I think I need for Chapter Ten. With any luck, I'll be doing that tonight. But I found out that when you have a laptop running on battery power and you're limited to however many hours that battery will last, you're a lot less likely to even look at any computer games. Play a game = waste power. You get as fast and as efficient as possible. I was able to recharge the battery using an inverter and our pickup, but I only recharged twice and didn't find myself tempted to take it for granted. Also, with no internet, no email, no anything extra to waste time on, it was a lot easier for me to just dive right into the work without stopping to do other things first.

All in all it was five days of livin' lean. I am, however, very grateful right now for all the creature comforts that I usually take for granted.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Pooka's Latest Tale

Phouka, the car, went into the shop on Friday morning and was out again by Friday afternoon. There was something wrong with the computer (and didn't I say as much two years ago when it wigged out on that trip to Portland?) As I understand it, a piece of bad code was causing the transmission to refuse to shift, even though there was nothing structurally wrong with the transmission. They re-flashed the code and now supposedly all's peachy. I swear, sometimes I hate computers. Can't live with 'em....

But I got to run errands earlier, which was good since we're about to leave town for a few days' camping. What isn't good is that my daughter brought yet another cold home, and of course after a few days' holdout, I came down with it. I'm not crazy about camping with the dregs of a cold, but will do so if necessary. If I get worse, we can always come back home. And I won't get worse, so there it is. As colds go, the one we had last month was by far the more miserable.

For the last two nights, I've worked on reading through Chapters 1 through 9 of the manuscript so I can figure out what to put in the blank Chapter Ten. From what I can tell, I've accomplished a lot of the changes I was supposed to make. I think I have an idea of what needs to happen in that blank space, so I need to check the story's calendar to make sure it fits in. Wouldn't it be a hoot if I actually came back from this camping trip with the book fully revised? Anyway, it feels good to be working on it again and know that I'm making progress. A great writing coach once told me it was more important to get it right than to get it fast, but ideally I'd prefer to do both.

Oh, and the reason I'm up so late/early is that this particular head cold isn't very conducive to sleeping lying down. If I have to make a choice between sleeping and breathing, I choose breathing.