CWW 2018 (partial) week 1 update

686 words so far! I’m writing a very short piece, and I will actually need to edit it down to 500 words, but that’s going to happen after I get a few more details on the setting; I’ll write it all up and then edit it all down.

I’ve also started loosely editing a small piece; I’m not sure that it’s something I can properly work through in a fortnight, though, so it might not be one of my three stories edited. Will see.

A heads-up going forward; I’ve found that a lot of the time when I’m working on a first draft, I handwrite it. (This ties in to my interest in fountain pens and small notebooks.) I’m fairly used to doing this, so I know how many words on average are on a page of my notebooks, and I’ll be calculating based off that average when I don’t have time to transcribe my weekly work into a word processor before Saturday.

(Again, if you’d like to sponsor: my profile is here, and the webpage is pretty easy to navigate if you’d like to sponsor someone else.)

Pen and ink.

Over the last week or so, I’ve been handwriting a story draft. I began because it was convenient to handwrite it at the time – I am very fond of my pens and notebooks, so one of each is generally to hand, and I wasn’t in the same room as a computer – and I continued because… well, I still had the pen and notebook handy, and I was curious.

First, it’s much easier to not get distracted while handwriting. I usually still have my phone with me, but when there isn’t an open browser window or a notification sitting in the corner of my eye, it does get easier to concentrate.

Second, it’s much slower – I can type easily twice as fast as I write, probably more. On the plus side, this means that I’m much less likely to feel like I’m adrift as I sit and stare at a blank page, because I am still writing out the words that I’ve composed in my head after I’ve composed them. On the downside, once I warm up, I cannot quite keep up with writing down everything I am coming up with, and that’s frustrating. I’m seriously considering looking into learning shorthand.

Also, I suspect this is a possible side-effect of it being slower: I’m coming up with more ideas of how to expand the story as I’m writing it, possibly just because I am spending more time thinking about any one particular moment in the story, and that gives me space to muse on what it could branch out into being.

It’s interesting. There’s a climactic scene and the dénouement left, and then I’ll have my first fully handwritten draft in years complete.

(Tangentially: this is also an incredibly effective way to use up fountain pen ink, even if you aren’t prone to fiddling with your pen and accidentally blotting yourself as I am. I’m not sure my 2ml sample of Astorquiza Rot will last until the end of the story.)

Purples

I’m finally getting my hair redone. I met a friend for dinner two weeks ago and was absolutely smitten by her hair; booked an appointment Monday at the place she recommended; and am currently sitting here in the salon waiting for my turn. It has that very nice salon smell that’s one part soap sharpness to about three parts lather and rich bubbles.

(Also, it’s been raining like mad for three days and will continue to do so for probably another four out of the next week, so I shouldn’t be too sun-faded for at least a little while.)

Continuing to work through my Hugo readings and towards my Clarion West Write-a-thon wordcount. The weather is pleasant, the cats are cuddly, and I actually got my email inbox down to under 250, so I’m expecting a really nice weekend.

A shining example to humanity.

Lately I’ve been… hmh. Rediscovering my fannish side, I suppose. Fallout 4 is coming out in 17 days (and 14 hours and 7 minutes and yes I think it is perfectly normal to have a countdown timer on my phone), and Hallowe’en is coming up sooner, and there is a local convention that has specifically mentioned costuming and there is also an okay to wear costumes at work.

Also the light of my life got me a PIP-Boy. So there’s that.

I am not a good costume-maker, for the record–my interest only tends to spike far-too-close to an event for me to comfortably have time to assemble something–but I am mucking about a bit with assorted paints applied to existing objects. What I am hoping for will be a very low-grade costume, no more remarkable than a sports jacket, but I hope it will be fun.

Mayyyybe… you’ll think of me…

PIPBoyThe light of my life got me a PIP-Boy.

I’d explain, but there is too much. Let me sum up.

Lo these many years ago, I ran across a computer RPG called Fallout. It was a retrofuturistic[1] post-apocalyptic game, in which you travel out from the great underground Vault where your people have lived for generations to find a replacement for the chip for the water purifier.

It spoiled me, in a lot of ways. (I used to approach other games just naturally expecting that I could play a female character unless there was a reason, and expecting many-many-lots options for how to deal with problems. Fallout, I love you–I have loved you for many years–but you’re probably a chunk of the reason that shooters bore me to tears.)

Anyway. The characters–the protagonists you play, I mean–have a PIP-Boy; a Personal Information Processor Boy, which keeps track of such useful in-game things as inventory and quests and maps and the like. (In Fallout, there were buttons to pick the various options. The button for “Clue” had been ripped out, and the label had been near-completely scratched off.) The PIP-Boy is… it’s as iconic as the whip of Indiana Jones, the pipe of Sherlock Holmes, the sonic screwdriver of the Doctor.

pip-boyThe collector’s edition of Fallout 4[2] comes with a PIP-Boy, and you can put little foam inserts in it so whatever phone you have fits in there. I wanted one. I really really wanted one. I am being fiscally responsible, and held off.

And the light of my life brought me a PIP-Boy created on a 3D printer specifically to fit my phone, that I get to paint all by myself. I can even add little LEDs, too. And it’s light enough I can wear it, and it fits, and…

I have a PIP-Boy.

[1] Ray guns? Yes. Super-mutants? Yes. Cellphones and LCD monitors? God no, no-one’s ever seen one of those.
[2] Finally. …I still have a spare copy of Fallout: New Vegas to give away, by the way! Only on Steam, though.

Hectic times

Today’s actually been a really good day. It was a low-pressure morning, I got the tracking information for my incoming shinies, I installed and noodled around on Pillars of Eternity, and I went to go see It Follows with the light of my life. (Who discussed doing science to the monster in the car on the way back.)

Pillars of Eternity is fun; it feels a lot like playing Baldur’s Gate back in the day[1], although I haven’t yet resorted to the tactic of summoning kobolds to fight for me and then looting the short bows for resale when they got killed and disappeared in a puff of smoke. It’s a bit crunchy, it feels fairly linear so far, and it has some gleefully creepy moments that I’ve been enjoying greatly. It’ll be good to play through, I think.

It Follows was… I don’t want to say it was surprisingly good, because I wasn’t expecting it to be bad. (Following under cut due to spoilers–mild ones, but it’s a really solid movie and people should get to watch it without spoilers if they so choose.)  Continue reading “Hectic times”

The glass is half full. Of phosphors.

There's nothing creepy about butterflies, right?
There’s nothing creepy about butterflies, right?

I have had a long day in a few respects, so I am coping by accentuating the positive. Onwards!

After making plans, and waiting for several months (I mean, not many several months; the kind of several months that could also be a few months), I have gotten a tablet. It has a ten-inch-and-change screen, and I am really pleased with it. It occupies a niche closer to a smartphone than a laptop, for me; WiFi only, and not something I expect to do a lot of typing on.

That said, it is better for browsing on than a smartphone (due to the screen size), good for playing light games, and much better for reading on.

I’ve found that if I’m going to e-read (that is a verb, right?), I prefer relatively short pieces of fiction; magazines and anthologies work for me, as do standalone stories and individual issues of comics. Usually I’ve used my Kobo for this; it’s light and fairly durable, has great battery life, and it’s easy to read in direct sunlight. But the eInk screen has a regrettable tendency of freezing in -20C weather or lower (making waiting at bus stops extremely boring), the resolution is fairly low, it doesn’t handle images or zooming very well, and… well, not to be shallow, but it’s in greyscale.

There are certain aspects of the e-reading experience that are not well-served by 800 x 600 resolution in 16-level greyscale.

(By the way, I am kind of loving Cat Rambo’s stories, and her covers for same; I think my favourite so far is Her Windowed Eyes, Her Chambered Heart, but since I am not sure how to pull that cover out of my Kindle app, I am tossing up the one for Jaco Tours.)

I need to be careful to stop using the tablet a while before I turn in (backlit screens before bed don’t improve my sleeping any), but it’s really made it a lot easier to get drawn into some of the stories I’ve been collecting. And since I have an upcoming trip (although not to Costa Rica, where Jaco Tours is set), I expect I will be getting a lot of reading in. I look forward to this.

Cheers.

Well, the bleaching and dyeing went well! My hair is now purple–mostly a blue-purple, some parts reddish-purple, and a few bits of bleached-but-not-dyed hair wisping around in front of my ears. The Vaseline got on them, it’s a resist, it happens. 🙂 I wasn’t sure using the two different dyes would actually make a difference, but it seems to’ve done so.

(In comparison to the other vegetable dyes I have used–Manic Panic and SFX–Punky Colour seems to bleed not at all. It comes out a little with shampoo, of course, and I had to use cleaner on the bathtub when I first rinsed it out. But it only comes out with shampoo, doesn’t stain the bathtub after the first rinse, and the first night I put a towel over my pillow and could not actually find anyplace my hair had stained it in the morning.)

(It also smells like Grape KoolAid, or at least the two purple dyes I used do. I have no idea if this is a nod to the old… tradition? method? …of dyeing hair bright colours by using KoolAid, but I would not be surprised.)

I’m feeling like a bit of an ass for waiting so long to do this again, to tell the truth. I keep thinking about an old joke about the woman who gets a nose job, feels great, takes a cruise, goes mountain-climbing, deep-sea diving, has a wonderful time. She runs into her plastic surgeon at a party or something several months later, he asks her how she’s doing, and she bursts into tears.

“What’s wrong?” he says, confused. “I thought you’d had a wonderful time since I saw you?”

“Oh yes, doctor,” she says. “But I could have done it all with my old nose, and I feel so stupid for waiting.”

(Let us not unpack why this is expected to be funny, I am in a good mood right now. But the waiting. The maybe-it-won’t-be-right, the bloody inertia. I get that.)

In other news, my work contract is done, and spring is here. I am contemplating shovelling some of the snow off the lawn–the pile is currently only four feet high or so, but it’ll melt down to the grass faster if I take off a little. And Elise has posted a tease of names for some of her earrings, so I expect to be able to see some lovely shinies within the week.

Very few colours, I think, are unnatural.

I need to dye my hair this weekend, or possibly Monday evening. Because I’m using vegetable dyes (as opposed to dyes-in-a-box-that-come-with-developer), and because my hair is fairly dark, this is a two-step process. First I’ll need to bleach, then I’ll need to dye.

The dyeing is not the stressful part; I put it in and comb it through, and then I can leave it in for… well, there’s probably an upper limit, but IME six hours does not even come close to hitting it. Washing it out  takes mild effort to minimize the skin staining, but I had that down pretty well. I’m fairly sure I can still do it.

The bleaching… I haven’t bleached in ages. That bit I’m actually a bit uneasy about.

(I have asked the light of my life to promise that, if I burn all my hair off and he is moved to laugh at me, he will at least hug me while doing so. He agreed to this, and suggested he might call me Ms. Luthor and ask about my plans to destroy Superman. I told him I would rather not have DC references, and he could call me Charlene Xavier.)

Because it’s been so long, I am kind of tempted by the idea of only partially going blue-purple, but the two-stage nature of the process means I would need to first bleach in a streak and then dye in the same streak, and that seems rather more difficult that just treating all my hair at once. Maybe I will feel more optimistic about it tomorrow; will see.

Unnatural colours

First off: there’s a 12-part comic series (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencilled by Gary Frank) called Midnight Nation. Interesting premise and well-handled, but I mention it because there’s one scene in it that leads up to a double-splash page that I think is both the most satisfying and saddest one I’ve ever seen in comics.

(It’s not hard to be the saddest; double-splash pages aren’t usually sad. The satisfaction, there’s a little more competition for.)

Changing topics: I used to dye my hair. Started with fuschia overtop the brown, went to pure fuschia, red, green (loved the green most, of all the colours, but it did not do me many favours), purple, and purple-blue (a single colour, not streaks). Also there was a weekend when it was white, when I bleached out an old colour and gave it a couple of days of conditioning to recover before I went back to the purple-blue.

(I actually really liked the white, but the roots would have been a timesink to keep on top of.)

I realized the other day that I’d been planning to dye my hair again for about eighteen months. And there have been reasons not to do it, mostly job-related.

That said, I am sure that if I’d come home to find the bleach and dye and an uninterrupted block of time sitting in the bathroom, I would have made it work. And I really don’t want to hit twenty months, twenty-two months, two years of not doing something I want to do because of reasons excuses.

So. March. (March because I will not feel stressed by too soon a deadline, and because I won’t need to dryclean my winter coat.) Coloured hair again.