ritaxis: (hat)
I am writing this month, but I can't do Nanowrimo for reasons. One: I don't seem able to focus on very large projects at this time. I'm just grateful I can write at all! Anything longer than a short tends to get lost in the underbrush of a no-longer-chemo-brain. So I'm writing shorts, cleaning up old stuff, submitting a bit. I decided that since it's really unlikely for me to make enough money to be thrown off of Medi-Cal in the near future, it's dumb not to submit. Actually--did I explain this?--being thrown off Medi-Cal is not the thing I fear. What I'm afraid of is getting put into the grey category where they don't throw you off Medi-Cal but they require you to pay several hundred dollars (for some people, thousands!) before they will pay for anything. It would be better to get thrown all the way off and pay the (newly) normal subsidized premiums and copays, but that doesn't happen immediately. Worse, I have no idea what would trigger which alternative. So, just as in the case of facing up to cancer, etc., I just have to live my life.

I already submitted two things--one at the end of last month, but I'm counting it in this month. That was a near-future sort-of fantasy about a woman who is being moved out of her inundated neighborhood to find that her new neighborhood is pretty watery itself. And also pretty strange. The other is "John Brown's Body," which is ten years old and looks it, but it's going to a reprint market and its datedness might be interesting in the light of how things are working out, politically, these days. I mean it's sort of the opposite to everything!

I wrote a flash piece but my first reader (you know who you are) said what I was feeling--that the story felt like the unshot gun on the mantle. So now it's turning into a novella. I think it's kind of a time paradox story, but maybe not: some mysteries are not to be understood by the author. An old lady returns to the mysterious coastal village she spent a summer in during her childhood, and finds things to be somewhat different from how she remembered them, but some things are entirely too similar. The best part is the setting, of course. I think, despite what I said about my brain not being able to handle longer projects, that this is not too much for me to handle. Again, there are parts of the story that can't decide whether they are near-future sf or fantasy.

During the summer I was working on two short novels, but due to chemotherapy I could only move them forward a bit. One was about girls who save the world by means of their special relationship with crows and pigeons respectively. Honestly, the hardest part of that one is working out a believable mechanism for them to save even a shred of the world. And yet, parts of the world do get saved on a regular basis.

The other is low-fantasy in that it is set in the same fantasy world--but a different corner of it--and it is unlikely that much of the fantasy elements will come to bear on the story. It's an enemies-to-lovers story happening in the interstices of a larger drama of bandit freedom fighters and also referencing the earliest days of the motion picture industry as experienced by eager innovators in other corners of the world. But not our world. Informed by the last years of the Ottoman empire but in no way an analog for it.

On other fronts: I am a third of the way through radiation therapy. The only bothersome effect is my own body's ridiculous response to any postural demand, which is to spasm painfully somewhere. I have to lie in a comfortable position on a well-constructed individualized support for less than half an hour a day, and my body's response to this is to develop stiff painful areas in my neck, back, and arm. Not the side being radiated. The other side. My radiated breast is a little red, and maybe a bit sensitive, but not so as I'd care, especially with this other crap going on.

Continuing with the health care theme, I've restarted physical therapy. I'd gotten de-conditioned and I'd gained weight during chemo, because I spent a lot of the day sleeping or lying in bed reading. Now my energy level is back to its normal (kind of low) levels, and I'm getting more exercise, but there's some damage to undo. Also, I've been using the BiPAP machine for two months and it is not creating as dramatic a difference as one might expect. However, the doctor has some suspicions about my oxygen uptake which we're going to measure next week & discuss next month.

AND last but not least in this theme, today I got cortisone shots in both thumbs to fight severe trigger finger. It's the second round. The first wore off two months ago but the PA's not willing to give me shots more often than every six months. So if this happens again we're looking at surgery. I'm not afraid of surgery. I'm afraid of being the little old lady who collects all the surgeries, and also the fact that I've been enjoying my surgical experiences feels a little perverse to me, so I drag my feet for that reason too.

It's time to go to radiation or I'd expound about Zluta and the state of my house, but that will have to wait for another day, because after radiation Zluta and I will take a walk and after that I will want to clean house a bit before time for dancing.
ritaxis: (hat)
I finally found almost exactly what I need: a memoir of an Austrian soldier on the Eastern front in World War One.  Better would have been a Russian soldier, but this fellow's memories are completely apposite.  He talks about the actual daily work of a soldier in rapidly-moving trench warfare (unlike the Western front where nobody could budge for ages and the trenches were much better equipped anyway). Unlike war buff sites, which have been somewhat helpful when they have archives of photographs but the narrative is often at the war-game level. Honestly, I don't care which division went where unless you tell me what they did when they had to travel through twenty miles of forest, or how they got across the wetlands or that valley with all the creeks in it -- usually they don't even tell you what the landscape was like at all, so it really is like a board game. They think they're telling me about the "human" side of the war when they relay some hoary story about somebody's brave quips. Which, of course, I've already heard, thank you.

I'm relieved to find that I extrapolated pretty well on the information I already had. I only came across a few things that have story-altering implications. I think I have underemphasized some things, and maybe overemphasized some others, but I'll judge that in revision. Right now I'm resisting the rapid deployment of some Cool Bits that I may include in the revision after I have thought them over wth a cooler head, or I may leave by the wayside. 

One thing I'm struck by is that this guy in no way demonizes the Russians. He's proud of the fact that while the Austrians he saw were patriotic and devoted to winning the war, they were not, in his words "jingoistic." I don't know if this is the last shreds of chjivalry persisting into the 20th century, or a bit of precocious post-nationalism, or just a different kind of war fever altogether. It seems to me that in the US today, the people who support the war are the other way around. They don't seem to really love their own country, or their own people (they do use some patriotic, country-loving language, but mostly they seem to despise most of the people in it and a large number of the institutions that are supposed to define it, and they certainly don't seem to have any great desire to preserve the land itself), but they believe the most hideous things about the people on the other side of the war. I think it's telling that ever since the (first? definitely the second) Bush presidency, we've been seeing a lot of use of the term "the bad guys" instead of the names of the people on the other side, or even "the enemy." And "the bad guys" is not being used ironically by these people.  Now, I don't for a minute believe that my Austrian soldier speaks for all of Austria in World War One, and I can't say, because I've never examined it before, how much of Austria thought like him and how much of the country thought in more jingoistic ways.  So I can't honestly say I have seen a way to contrast the state of my country now with the state of that country then.  I guess I have to say I'm struck by the contrast between this guy in this memoir and some other fellows I have read about in my time and place and leave it at that, and not make generalizations like I just started to do.

Another thing I'm struck by is the terrible, terrible font this memoir is presented in. Why? It's small and muddy and dark and it takes way too much effort to read. I almost gave up. Instead I copied the text into my own word processor, and I'm really glad I did. I'm not generally a font snob -- I mean, I like Comic Sans -- but this was way too nasty and difficult.

Oh, yeah, it's the 30th so I have to account for the month, Really didn't nano, but oh my the research I have done.  I only wish I knew over a year ago that I needed to research this stuff, but at that time I thought "I'll avoid most of the war -- knock out a couple battle scenes, and then get on with the real story." I understand, of course, that that is intolerably naive. I probably actually knew it at the time. I probably thought I was going to skate by with a little bit of skimming things for Cool Bits.

But Cool Bits only decorates a story. To actually drive a story you need to know what you're talking about.

late start

Nov. 2nd, 2012 08:42 am
ritaxis: (Default)
Yesterday I was working on the downstairs bedroom so I don't have to live in a dump for the next year and so I will eventually be able to clean up the living room too.

So I wrote one sentence.

Today I brought the word count to 1.7K+, which is better.  I'm sort of speeding throguh drummer's training camp.  Tomorrow I'll get him chosen by hsi first unit, and the next day maybe have his first battle, and probably on one of thiose two days the conversation with the older drummer about how they're already dead, so they may as well see if they can save their comrades, and by the way, we fuck around a little too.

I was looking for more about military drummers, but there's not a lot more to be found, so I'm making up a lot of stuff whole cloth, and hoping that it makes sense.

I've been poking at Frank's old laptop but it's probably a paperweight. I have some time before the surgeries anyway: I've moved back the first one to May, so I have more time to work out the finances and strengthen my legs before hand.  There's no reason not to, I'm not in much pain at all and I really am getting stronger.  Yesterday Kevin the physical therapist decided I was ready for a new set of exercises which are as he says "efficient" -- meaning they are difficult, painful, and tiring. I should be proud, but I'm sore. I mean muscle sore, not emotion sore.

Also, that cracked tooth finally shed the cracked bit off, and now I have three teeth with chunks out of them.  At my age, my mother had three teeth, though, so that's an improvement.

Also: tomato sandwiches.
ritaxis: (Default)
In November I'm going to finish The Drummer Boy in its first draft.  I don't know how many words that is -- somewhere between 35 and 50 thousand, I think.

In December I'll be begging for some people to read it.

day 3

Nov. 3rd, 2011 06:39 am
ritaxis: (Default)
1800 words. Not much accomplished: how can it take so many words to say so little? But I don't know which are keepers so we'll leave editing for later. Rate was 1200/hour today, though. Even after correcting a ot for the keyboard on Frank's old laptop.

Reason for stopping: need to check the traps and clean them up before I go to work and I want to rest a little before that. Also, I will need a bath after that.

day 1

Nov. 1st, 2011 08:46 am
ritaxis: (Default)
1700+ words (I'm gong to round down). Reason for stopping: needed a nap and to reconsider next bit. My rate: 1K/hour (which I thought would be the case)

Accomplished: introduced four of the major characters and just about established their relationships (or facets of them, anyway): identified our guy and his situation (but reserved most of the detail for later which is proper): put the drum in Yanek's hand's (but didn't say here it came from). Also: established something about social structure and time.

No I have to go to work in less than half an hour.

Last night; 37 trick or treaters. No little playdough containers,so I handed out glowsticks. Clearly not the only one in the neighborhood, though.

The brats in the college house across the street were noisy and irritating, but they cleared out before I went to bed so I don't care.

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