Tag Archives: writing

Writing, Editing…Editing,Writing

Tireder than all my tribe…

Ran out of copy for Ella’s Story, so this week had to write the chapter that will go up at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. And so I suppose it will be, until I come to the end of Ella’s part of the Varnis ramblings. It really is just a side story…there’s more, a great deal more, focusing on a different but related set of characters.

But meanwhile an editing job came in the day before yesterday. Haven’t even looked at it, because I’ve been so focused on trying to get Ella, Chapter 23 out by tomorrow ayem. This is an R&R (“revise and resubmit”) of an article I’ve edited before, so I’m hoping (against hope…) it won’t be too difficult to read.

Speaking of the crack of proverbial dawn, one would be a lot less tired (and get a lot more work done) if one’s dogs did not develop the habit of demanding to be let out at three in the morning.

This has gotten to be a nightly thing.

First Ruby starts to squirm — corgis are small dogs, exquisitely cute dogs, dogs that are smarter than humans, and so succeed in taking up residence on the human’s bed. She makes her musical whining noise, which is not really “let me down” but means something more like are you awake?

This works well to awaken Cassie, who having an aging digestive system has not done her thing before bed-time and so now is taken by an embarrassing urgency. If the human does not get up and let her off the bed, something even more embarrassing threatens to happen. From there, it’s race to the back door and shoot out into the backyard in search of satisfying relief.

Dogs go back to sleep forthwith.

Humans…not so much.

So by 4:30 or 5, time to roll out of the sack for a doggy-walk before it gets too hot, the human is in full zombie mode.

I’m thinking tonight I’ll take them for a walk as soon as it’s dark and the sidewalks have had time to cool off a bit. That will be soon — it’s already 8:00. If I can wring them out before bed-time, maybe they won’t roust me in the wee hours.

The scribbling for free and the editing for dollars projects are seriously complicated by the absence of the MacBook Pro. Apple, faced with at least one lawsuit (to which I happen to be a party now) and with a cacophony of more than the usual number of angry, bellyaching customers, decided to replace the machine’s defective keyboards for free.

Since mine intermittently declines to type a letter “b” or recognize the action of the “return” key, last week I dragged it down to the Apple story and turned it in to be fixed. I hope.

“Fixing” a computer, I’ve learned over the years, usually means “screwing it up in new and creative ways.” So as you can imagine, my enthusiasm for this process knows plenty of bounds.

The contraption is not supposed to be returned before tomorrow (Monday), and probably later than that.

In the meantime, I’m working and playing on an ancient iMac desktop, a big old thing that I use as a substitute television, streaming videos from Amazon and YouTube. And lemme tell you: that frikkin” HURTS!

Another function of old age, in addition to a certain tendency to insomnia, is hurting joints. Especially hurting hip joints. When I sit in an office chair — any office chair, for any length of time (even just a few minutes) — my hip starts to hurt so much I can barely limp around. The laptop brings a stop to that by letting me sit in a soft easy chair with my feet up on an ottoman. In its absence, I get to enjoy extravagant pain. After a couple hours at this desk, I have to perform a series of physical therapy exercises just to walk the dogs around the block.

Welp, I cannot write another word, and if I don’t get up from this bone-crushing chair now I will not be able to walk to the bathroom, to say nothing of a mile into Richistan and back to Normal Acres. And so, away…

Two Bookoids Down…

Only eighteen more to go! 😀

Last night finished the second of the ten to twenty racey “books” I’d like to turn out per month. “Bookoid,” is what they might best be called. The word length is definitely in the ball park of what’s being turned out. But that word length is not very long: about 7400 words, for this one.

It’s taking a lot longer to write these things than people say they take, or than I planned. I see, for example, by this blog that I thought the present magnum opus would be done two days ago. I completed the first bookoid six days before that. So it’s taking me about a week to write one of these things.

That’s only four a month, and I need a bare minimum of ten.

The big problem is the constant stream of interruptions. Some days it feels like I can’t get ten minutes without SOMETHING busting in to my concentration.

Yesterday, for example, the car had to go to the repair shop — that’s two trips through rush-hour traffic, back and forth. Twenty minutes after the mechanic dropped me off at the front door, the handyman showed up to fix the kitchen sink. He occupied a fair amount of time, though he didn’t charge anything (which was nice….since the car is about to bankrupt me).

Final student papers are coming in. To get some of them to turn in their 10-page exudations early so we’d get a little slack on the awful deadline for filing final grades, we offered them  20 points of extra credit to post their papers before Monday. So naturally, the best and the brightest have begun turning that junk in.

Okay, so the brightest students are easiest to grade, because all you have to do is slap an A on their paper and you don’t have to waste your time justifying WHY you’re giving the person a D (it’s a waste of time because these folks have heard the same stuff a score of times and don’t pay the slightest bit of attention — some of them don’t even bother to read your comments). But it still consumes time to read them, even in a cursory way.

Speaking of exudations, one of the three surgical incisions I came away from the Mayo with is infected. It’s worse this morning, so I’ll have the privilege of spending half of today trying to cope with that, which will entail another trip to the hospital and a trip to a pharmacy and probably some throwing up in response to whatever antibiotic they inflict on me.

The designer called and revealed that he is only JUST beginning to look at compiling the 18 Fire-Rider covers I need to have before I can post that series on Amazon. Grrrr! But when he did that, he also revealed that I must have been in my cups some weeks ago when I sent him the list of books & titles — he thought the title of book II is the title of book I, and from there things went downhill.

So  now I get into my files and see, yes, somehow that list got completely garbled! I’d sent him something that made exactly zero sense.

So that meant I had to rewrite that, try to get it right for a change, and send it to him.

Then there was the back and forth with the web gurus. The exiting guy — alas, this lovely man got a JOB (horrors!) and besides has four kids and a wife he imagines he should spend time with — is going to move the blog empire over to WestHost today. The new guy is going to reorganize it. Among other things, this site (Writers Plain & Simple) will become a subdomain of Plain & Simple Press, allowing the domain name to revert to GoDaddy.

This scheme — converting a number of free-standing business-related sites to subdomains of my main business websites — will save a ton of money over the long run. GoDaddy is now charging several hundred dollars a year for the many domain names I’ve claimed. Speaking of sucks: that’s a money suck.

So I’ll end up dropping five domain names and picking up one new one: Camptown Races Press, the new imprint for the p0rn enterprise. Good. Very, very good.

Because I was waiting for a number of people to call, when the phone rang I had to pick it up. Normally I don’t…when you get to be my age, you get on every predator’s phone list, so every day I get two or three phone calls from scammers trying to victimize old folks. And yes, I am on the National Do Not Call List, a pathetic joke. Sometimes I can tell the caller is a crook — the ones that spoof Directory Assistance are a bit obvious. 😀 But sometimes Caller ID won’t have enough information to tell whether it’s the handyman calling from his cell or what.

The phone kept jangling all day long. Every time I’d sit down and just get focused, BRRRRRIINNNGGGGA! And there’s some moron on the other end.

No, I cannot afford call blocking. The phone company does not want you to block their customers — the people who pay them for your phone numbers — and so they charge an arm and a leg for call blocking. No, the Panasonic phone that lets you block around a hundred numbers is not a practical option: you need a master’s degree in software engineering to figure out how to program it.

Then Semi-Demi-Exboyfriend decided that NOTHING will do but what I have to traipse out to Sun City to have dinner at his house while New Girlfriend is off in Colorado. It’s all very nice that he’d like to socialize with me, but… He invariably wants me to come out there in the rush hour. So to get there by 4:00 I have to leave here by 3:00. By the time I’ve sat around his house until 8:00 or 9:00 p.m., a third of the day is shot!

(Hereabouts, evening rush hour starts at 3:00 p.m., especially during the summer when guys in construction and other strenuous trades start at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. to get around the worst of the heat.)

By way of negotiating this social event, SDXB phoned me…what? Three times? Four? I can’t recall, but every time I sat down to work, there he was on the phone again.

So, what have we got here: TEN ONGOING DISTRACTIONS breaking up ONE day!!!!! Shee-ut! No wonder I can’t get any work done.

Well, it’s after 6 a.m. We can call the Mayo 24 hours a day, so I’d better call and let them know I think this damn thing is infected. That will mean traipsing up there today. If they let me in this morning, then the first half of the day will be erased, for all practical purposes.

If I have to wait until this afternoon, then I won’t be able to go to the writer’s group I favor, which meets at the library of a westside suburb halfway to Yuma.

There’s another time suck. They meet for three hours once a month. It’s an hour’s drive each way: five hours down the hole.

Normally I do not hang out with writer’s groups — they really are an unholy waste of time for someone who already knows how to write and edit, thank you very much. But this group is something else. Most of them are already published, some of them through real presses, some through Amazon. And what they’re interested in is not how to become a Writer with a Capital W, but in how to market.

Marketing is my big weakness. Hustling my wares is far from my favorite pastime, and I’m not good at it. So I see enough value in this group to make it worth killing half a day a month sitting around listening to them.

At any rate, what it boils down to is

a) it’s taking longer to write these things than I figured (original estimate was one every two or three days), and
b) even when it looks like I have a day that’s going to be free, it in fact is a pastiche of interruption and nuisances.

That makes it unlikely that I can turn out ten to twenty bookoids a month, unless I write much shorter. How many s∈x acts can you cram in to 3,000 words? And how much space does that give you to come up with an entertaining reason to present the s∈x acts?

Turning out one a week, which seems to be about the rate we’re looking at, means not doing anything else. I haven’t written the proposal for the Boob Book, even though the chapters, intro, and appendix are ready to go. I haven’t worked on formatting the last two of 18 Fire-Rider serials so they can go online as soon as Gary finishes the covers. Nor, indeed, have I budgeted several hours to sit down and study how to get the things up.

Claro, I’m going to need those four wannabe writers to contribute to this project. So far none has come forward with a draft. It remains to be seen what will happen there. But to get even 10 a month online will take more than one person writing the stuff.

Maybe I should come up with some writing prompts for them…

On the other hand…I have to tellya! Writing this stuff IS a hoot. The one I finished yesterday turned out to be a great deal spicier than the first effort. And in 7,000 words, you can come up with characters that are more than cardboard figures. You can even create a little backstory. These are stories that are probably worth reading for more than just the smυt. But there’s plenty of that, too.

And each of these stories lends itself to a series. Think I’ll go back and forth between them. The next bookoid will be another biker story; then the following will return to the incubus tale.

Speaking of time sucks, now it’s after 7 a.m. Got to water the plants before the heat fries them and get cleaned up lest I have to schlep to the Mayo hospital. Ugh.

Crazed Client + CreateSpace + Crashed Computer = No Work Done

ugh ugh UGGHHH what a gawdawful day!

Up at 5 a.m. Clean the palm tree crud and duck droppings out of the pool before the thermometer tops 105. Water the plants before the sun can fry them. Feed the dogs. Bolt down slice of watermelon. Park in front of the computer before 7 o’clock.

Planned to finish writing Chapter 2 of the Boob Book. That done, I’ll have the introduction, two chapters, and two decent appendices, enough to support a proposal, which I intend to send to a couple of my past publishers. One of those publishers is likely to pay an advance large enough to free me from a year of teaching drudgery. And that will open the door not only to writing a socially redeeming book but to kicking off a totally unredeeming bidness that is likely to support me into my dotage.

Speaking of the which, my accountant & friend and I were meeting for happy hour this afternoon, both of us having exceeded our respective drudgery allowances some time back. Developments that arose yesterday — two people offering to write spicey novelettes for my company, on contract; another offering to serve as project manager, plus an offer to do e-book formatting at a batch rate — meant we would need to talk business as well as drink off the stresses of the past few weeks. And I would need something to talk business about.

So, I put off book writing to revise the S-corp’s present business plan and compose a strategic plan. Four pages worth.

Finally I return to the  Boob Book and start to write. There’s a page of To-Do notes to print. When I hit command-P…oh, yes. EFFING Word freezes again.

I hate Word.

Apple’s accursed spinning mandala goes on and on and on and on and on and on and I go off and do some other chores and come back eight or ten minutes later and find the accursed spinning mandala twirling on and on and on and on and Force QUIT! FORCE QUIT WORD, DAMMIT.

Word crashes. Reboot. Notice the wireless connection is unstable. Trying to print the unsaved To-Do notes freezes Word again.

FORCE QUIT!!! Now I figure I’d better shut down all the programs and reboot.

The whole system hangs.

It will not unhang.

A bunch of things I’m working on — and that I’ve done a ton of work on — are hung with it. They’re not saved to DropBox because I’ve been busy working on them. They’re saved to the hard disk. If the aging laptop crashes, hours and HOURS of work are going to crash with it.

I throw on my clothes, grab the machine with its eternally spinning mandala, and haul it to the Apple store, hoping they can clue me to how to make it stop without losing everything I’ve done for the past several days. Which is a lot.

They can’t. The woman I speak to is actually rude.

Next computer is going to be a cheap PC. What’s the point of spending top dollar on a Mac if you can’t get customer service? I’m done with Apple.

Outside the store I sit on a park bench under a mister, a pathetic effort to make the outdoor mall environment tolerable for the baked customers. Finally figure since everything is probably gone, I might as well turn the machine off. Turn it back on.

Incredibly, it reboots.

Some data is lost, but most of the files are recoverable, largely because the MacBook is set to save every five minutes, thanks to years of experience with Word’s crashing proclivities.

I’m relieved but furious.

Back home, more and more time remains to be spent spent sorting out the crashed files, backing up to DropBox, and generally farting around.

But…

Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away… A client and dear friend was going into melt-down mode. Had been, since yesterday.

Yesterday he sent a dozen emails and left two voice messages. He’s been trying to produce a second edition of a book he uses as a marketing tool for his chiropractic practice. CreateSpace and Ingram/Spark keep rejecting his application. They tell him he hasn’t filled in tax and address data. He says he has filled in these parts. There is, of course, no human there to ask for an explanation. Only repeated, circular, machine-generated demands.

But while I’ve been enjoying the better part of a year of surgery, design and production for this second edition has been going on without me. A local graphic designer and author’s shepherd has been doing the project, leaving me pretty much out of the loop. So…I have no idea what he’s talking about. Nor do I have a clue what to do to help.

He sends me screenshots of the rejected forms. I can’t access them without his username and password. He sends the same; I still can’t get in. Not that there’s much I could do about it: what on earth would I know about his tax data? Oh well.

He’s at a conference. He gives presentations at such conferences. So one might say he’s a bit preoccupied. But in short order he has a series of seminars to give, and he wants copies of the new books. By this morning he’s getting frantic.

Arriving home from the infuriating, frustrating encounter with the Apple Bit*h, I find two more frantic calls from him. Try to return his calls: no answer.

At this point, I think, “Why on earth are you going with CreateSpace and Ingram when there’s a perfectly fine PoD printer here? The only reason to print through Ingram/Spark is to get access to international distribution to bookstores. The only reason to print with CreateSpace is to sell hard copies through Amazon.

“But…but…almost all your hard-copy sales happen at conferences and seminars. Most people buying the book through Amazon are perfectly content to get it on their Kindles. There’s no reason your admin can’t fulfill hard-copy orders from Amazon.”

This thought communicated to him by e-mail, he eventually returns and allows that he’s had it with trying to deal with these two outfits.

So I call the local printer and ascertain that if we’ll get the local designer to send the PDFs and artwork over, he can probably have his first print run in hand within two weeks.

By e-mail, I report this to Beloved Client and Incommunicado Designers.

This consumes a significant amount of the day. By the time I’m done, it’s almost 2 o’clock in the freaking afternoon. I’m starved and I need a drink.

Fry up a decent meal, pour a bourbon and water.  By the time I finish eating, it’s time to paint my face and get ready to meet Accountant Friend.

The ENTIRE DAY was shot, what with all this screwing around. I got one, count it, one paragraph written.