Two days of Mediocrity…

Claytor Lake Virginia
Claytor Lake Virginia

…or one of Good?

I spent the day at my dad’s helping him repair some vinyl floating stuff and taking a short boat ride on Claytor Lake. It’s a 5 hour round trip. It was good to see dad and do some stuff together. I woke up with a little cold or allergy-type thing – not a big deal, but enough to cast a weird floating feeling on the day (It wasn’t the boat ride, I swear). I’m home now and we just got our daughter down for the night (maybe). I had originally planned to get to some writing tonight, but I don’t know that I have the attention span to churn out something serviceable. Also, if I stay up late struggling, I don’t get the rest I need and go into tomorrow in a similar state. I thought I might concentrate on getting some good rest and hit it hard in the AM, my normal writing time. That’s my plan.

Would you go for quality or quantity if you were in my shoes? All two of you who read this blog, I’m asking you. I think I can get both tomorrow with good rest tonight.


Stephenson’s Quicksilver

I just started reading Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. I’m only about 30-some pages into it, but I’m loving it. I love the heft of the thing. I love the words packed onto each page. I love that there are two more volumes of The Baroque Cycle. I have to confess that I bought it for my mother for Christmas, hoping she would dig it. But, I was also hoping I’d get to read it as well. I got Anathem for my brother. Neither have completed their books as of yet. If I can read both and give them the big thumbs up, perhaps they’ll reconsider.

Neal Stephensons Quicksilver
Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver

The only other work of his I’ve read (book on tape) is Snow Crash. I found that to be okay, but definitely zoned out during the Librarian explanations. Because of his style, I am definitely leery of a similar situation in Quicksilver.

On the flap there is a review quote that likens it to the erudition of The Name of the Rose, which I read this Spring.  I think I can hang with that. I like learning a little something (or a lot of something) whilst I enjoy a good tale.

I’ll update this post upon completion, but if you have any thoughts on this or any of Mr. Stephenson’s offerings, feel free to comment.

Update 6/26/09

I’m now about 115 pages in. It’s still captivating. If you like the idea of the great minds of the natural sciences running around, making trouble, challenging the known world, this is pretty cool. From young Ben Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton, and Christopher Wren to John Wilkins and Robert Boyle, and Robert Hooke, this book seems to include them all in a very human light. Check out for a little background on the Royal Society that features so prominently in Stephenson’s book.

Father’s Day

Me and my girl.
Me and my girl.

Happy Father’s Day to all the pops, dads, fathers, daddies, old men, etc. I’ve only been at it for 3+ years, but there is nothing like it on earth. I can thank my daughter’s birth in 2005 for a change in perspective, a rearranging of priorities

Later on today, I’ll be heading to the writing shed a see what I can do. For now, it’s family time.

Up All Night

We are in the middle of trying to get our 3 year old to go to bed. Time was, she would go to sleep no problem. Sleep 12 hours. Wake up at 8 or 8:30. The best part is I am hoping to go to bed early so I can shuttle my mom to the airport in the AM. 3:45 AM. This will probably be the night our cat can’t decide if he wants to be in or out and meows at the sliding door regardless of which side he is on. But you know what? It ain’t so bad.

Ye Olde Typing Apparatus
Ye Olde Typing Apparatus

Today is an off day for writing, but tomorrow I’ll be back in the saddle again, continuing work on my first novel. I’ve been at it since early April and am at the 45,000 word mark, whatever that’s worth. I’ve enjoyed the hell out the good days and haven’t minded the bad days all that much. At least I get to write. My goal is to have the first draft (~100k words) done by Labor Day, which is late this year, so that’s a bonus. Then I’ll have my wife give it the once over while I ignore it for a bit and get started on something new. Once I’m ready to look at it again and talk it over with my wife, I’ll pound out the second revision and send it to a handful of folks who’ve expressed an interest and aren’t homers. That is, of course, so long as the first draft doesn’t blow chunks and I hang it up altogether.

I seem to remember a saying about trying and failing being better than not trying at all. Sure. Why not.


John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck

In the last two weeks I’ve delved into The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck) and I Am Legend (Matheson). I am currently reading The Sun Also Rises (Hemingway). I can’t get enough. Back in high school, somewhere in the late 80’s, I was loathe to read the assigned books. I read a lot of Stephen King and Robert Ludlum. Those guys wove (and still weave in King’s case) great stories that resonated with me. I still read both authors today.

Looking back, I think I avoided the classics was because I couldn’t relate, because I had such a narrow view of the world. Also, the writing style was just different enough as to sit crookedly in my brain, making it difficult to concentrate on reading and comprehending.

What a joy to read these books for the first time and fall in love with the characters, the prose, the whole deal. I should probably thank my wife, a devout devourer of all manner of books, classic and otherwise. My good friends in Indiana deserve credit for my rediscovering Steinbeck. The gushed about The Grapes of Wrath and went so far as to push a worn copy into my hands. I love having a great reading network.

If you stumble across this post, let me know your thoughts on some classics. I’d love to hear them.

Word Proliferation

I just subscribed to Jay Lake’s blog and have to say that his ability to crank out words stunned me. I’m more of the 500-1500 words a day kind of guy. One of my favorite books on writing, Stephen King’s On Writing, although he usually shoots for 2000 words a day, he suggests first time writers shoot for about 1000 words a day. I used that as my model when I began writing my first novel this April.

Jay Lake is pumping out 4500 words in two hours. The man is an inspiration. Thanks Mr. Lake. You’ve provided impetus to get my ass back to the  laptop tonight and see what I can do.

In contrast, there’s Mr. James Joyce:

A friend reportedly once asked James Joyce how his work was going. “I got seven words today,” Joyce replied.
“But James, that’s good … at least for you,” said the friend.
“Perhaps … but I don’t know what order they go in!” he cried in despair.

Good times. That one always makes me chuckle.

Writing instead of writing

I am taking precious writing time to launch this blog. I forgot to string up the plastic triangular flags and the tinseled bunting, but that’s probably just as well. If I’m writing here, I’m probably not filling up pages of my story. My goal for these posts is brevity. So far, so good.

June 19, 2006 Update:

Just thought I should tag this link to author Robin Hobb’s blog rant. She hits it right on the head, yet here I am writing about it instead of writing. No really, I’m going now.