Friday, January 22, 2021

Still not doing entirely well

Apparently, despite my efforts to get enough sleep and shove my schedule back onto regular hours, I'm still not quite on point. Again, I don't seem to be sick, exactly -- and I've been working from home since Thanksgiving, because I'm in Texas and the pandemic numbers here are the stuff of nightmares -- just run down to the point of almost sick.

I say this because I got to the end of the workday yesterday, toddled over to the couch, and then just lay down and passed out on it for a couple of hours. This wasn't my plan, and it wasn't anything I'd been expecting to do. And I've noticed a couple of other little things that tend to indicate that my immune system has kind of bottomed out. 

All the more reason to be cautious, I suppose. 

Again, no indication of being actually sick: no fever, no headache, no muscle aches, no sore throat, no brain fog. A bit of stuffiness, but that's absolutely typical for this time of year. And I do have energy, it just sort of suddenly ran out on me. 

Honestly, I think a lot of it is just stress. I mean counting back by Wednesdays, we have: an attempted insurrection on the first Wednesday of the year, a Round Two of Articles of Impeachment on the second Wednesday, and the Inauguration this past Wednesday. At this point, I'm frankly terrified of what next Wednesday will bring; if it's the rise of the Great Old Ones and the utter destruction of the Earth and everything on it, I won't be surprised. 

And there are some reasons to be hopeful. I mean yes, it looks as though the incoming administration is essentially going to have to rebuild the federal government from the ground up, and there's no plan (and possibly no supplies) for dealing with the pandemic. But on the other hand, the new Executive Branch has a lot of experience with how things are supposed to work, and they don't seem to be hamstringing themselves by holding out in hopes of achieving some sort bipartisan cooperation. I'm sure there'll be plenty of things to criticize, but this probably about the best we could reasonably hope for. 

So I'm going to take today about the same way I took yesterday: cautiously, getting things done but not pushing myself. Hopefully that'll give my body a chance to rebuild some reserves (both physically and mentally) without falling behind. 

And if I have any leftover energy after that, I'm writing.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Writing Process: Starting a New Project

I said, back at the beginning of the year, that I was thinking about starting a new writing project, then added it to my list of 2021 aspirations. I haven't made a lot of progress since then, mainly because things have been, um, fraught and I've been both busy and exhausted. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's given me some time to think about the character, the world, the lesser and greater antagonists, and the various struggles and sources of conflict available. 

So I figured I'd start making some notes here about the world, the concept, and the writing process. 

The concept: Well, more or less, "What if Hogwarts but with more monsters and monster-kissing?"

The basics: The structure of the story is going to be a very simple. I expect to be writing in the third person, and sticking to a single point-of-view as much as possible. Nothing complicated; experimental formats can wait for some other project. 

The protagonist: I have a name for him now; he's Darian Silver. He's a fourteen-year-old boy, and when the story opens he's living in a small village on the edge of the empire, beside the Shadowfall Forest. He's spent the last year getting into trouble because things keep happening around him, and he's hoping that going to study at a school of magic will put him in an environment where people are better-equipped to deal with that (and maybe even help him with it).

The setting: Done right, the school will be as much of a character as any of the characters. I'm still filling in a lot of the details -- including its proper name -- but my working title for it is the Shadow Academy. It will have something like Hogwarts houses, though they may be closer to the fraternities and sororities I remember from college; it may be possible to remain independent. Again, still working all that out. And there are things going on outside the school, larger conflicts that will shape the setting and the story but aren't immediately apparent to our protagonist. 

So yeah, that's where I am. And I'm damned glad to be here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Blogging Challenge: Childhood Collections/Books To Get Me Through

For the last two years, I've been taking part in the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge over at Long and Short Reviews. I've had a great deal of fun with it, so naturally I'm continuing it this year. If you'd like to participate, follow that first link for the list of prompts, and then check the main site for the weekly post with links to everyone's responses (and add your own link, if you're so inclined). 

Today's prompt is "something I collected as a child" but honestly, aside from "toys" I literally can't think of anything. Nothing that I just collected for the pure pleasure of owning and looking at. And also, the world's still on fire and it's stressing me out. (I hope and expect that we'll be seeing an inauguration shortly after this goes up, but at this point I would not be surprised to see an attempt at assassination or insurrection instead.) So instead, I'm going off the rails on this one, and I'm going to put together a list of books to help get me through until the world is less of a collection of crises built on top of crises atop a foundation of disasters. 

Every single one of these is a re-read, something I'll be going back to when I just don't have it in me to take in something new.

She-Wolf and Cub, Lilith Saintcrow. This one, I'm reading right now. Highly cyberpunk take on the old Lone Wolf and Cub movies and manga; extremely violent and rather dark, but also a lot of fun. I was talking about it recently and decided that it deserved a re-read, and I don't regret a thing.

Space Opera, Catherynne M. Valente. Eurovision in Space, with the fate of humanity dependent on the performance of the remaining members of Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes, a band of broken and struggling people well past their moment of fame. Alternately hilarious, heartbreaking, and uplifting, this book broke me in the best possible way. 

This Is How You Lose The Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I don't even know how to describe this one. It's an epistolary romance; it's a time-traveling adventure; it's a war story. This book also broke me in the best possible ways, and I love it.

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. A young prince living on an isolated manor suddenly finds himself ascending to the throne, and sets out to rule with fairness and kindness. The book is basically competence porn, and it's amazing. 

Normally I'd throw Murderbot and Jennifer Crusie titles on here too, but I literally just finished re-reading Murderbot and I've re-read my favorite Crusie books within the last couple of years; I'm not ready to head back to either of those options quite so soon. Oh, and somewhere in there I need to read the second Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse book, Terminal Uprising. (These are also fun and funny, and I highly recommend them -- especially if the second book turns out to be even half as much fun as the first. Space battles, alien mysteries, and unlikely heroes.)

So, if you did the blogging challenge right, what did you collect as a child? And if you feel like it, tell us what books you'd recommend to help us all get through this ugly first bit of 2021.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Weird Dreams part whichever

 I used to do these a lot more, but then I think I used to get enough solid hours of sleep a lot more often too. It's been a while, but I finally managed to grab a four-hour nap this weekend. And man, the dreams were weird. 

Many of my dreams are what I think of stress-dreams, where I'm trying to get somewhere on time and I'm running late. Usually a lot of things go wrong, which may also include some parenting elements: e.g. the kids have wandered off, I don't have my luggage ready, etc. This one went welllllll beyond all that. 

I mean, yes, in fact we were driving to the airport and in fact we were running late, and in fact we'd just discovered that there were only five minutes between now -- us on the road -- and the time when boarding would start. No real other background details, like where I was flying to or where we were; somewhere vaguely desert or scrubland. 

And then, as we were crossing over a river on a bridge, a big hole opened up in the ground and all sorts of giant kaiju and other monsters came out and started smashing buildings, eating people, overturning cars... very apocalyptic, and there was a bit of running and hiding and trying to avoid notice. After a bit we turned up at some sort of big shelter -- I had my wife with me, or at least a wife -- which turned out to be some sort of Apocalypse Coordination Center. Except, y'know, for all the things that were destroying the world. 

And by showing up there, I'd somehow designated myself as the one responsible for trying to kill the monster who would be destroying my little corner of the world. This was best done here, while they were in human form taking a break. Mine was dressed as a pilot, very snappy, with little decorations on his coat and everything. He turned into some sort of evil airplane -- which I suppose brought the dream full circle -- but I only got a glimpse of it; I'm not sure how it was supposed to destroy its section of the world. I killed him by finding his weakness: the fancy silver pin that he'd gotten for getting his pilot's license. So... yay me? If one little section of the world survives, it's because I saved it.

(Presumably other people were responsible for other sections, but that didn't stop me from trying to murder at least one other monster before I woke up.)

So yeah, that's what my dreams are like, when I have them.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Enough?

 Urgh. I really hoped to take today off, but I keep looking at my list and I have too many Things To Do. 

...Though if I can get the two big ones done, I might blow some comp time and take the afternoon  off. I'm just... not sick, exactly, just full of that weird feeling you get when you're run down and it would be very easy to become sick. I was reading The Myth of the Lost Cause because it seemed like a good thing to brush up right now, and then had to put it back down because it was just too on point. So I've switched back to comfort stuff: re-reading The Murderbot Diaries, re-playing the old inFamous games, and desperately hoping that I'll get it together enough to make some real progress on this new writing project. 

Physically and emotionally, I'd like to just... hibernate for a little while.

Either that, or have a really good cry.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Rags and Bones

 Bob's a skeleton now. I mean, he's still working in the server room, making sure the routers are connecting smoothly, and he was a big help with that firewall issue two days ago, but still...

He's a skeleton now. 

Janet says she doesn't mind having the tentacles coming out of her back, really. She just wishes they'd quit refiling things when she isn't looking. It's not just annoying, it's starting to cause real problems with the invoices. 

And Don... Don's just a pool of shadow sliding across the floor now, but somehow he can still talk and work a telephone, so he's basically good. Better than Dave, anyway. Dave's just a bundle of rags. How he's supposed to configure systems when he's just draped over a keyboard like that, I don't know. 

Lisa says she went the classic route: she's a giant cockroach now. Just woke up that way a couple of days ago. No idea why. 

2021 is off to one hell of a start, y'all. I'm afraid to look in the mirror.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Blogging Challenge: Top Five Places

For the last two years, I've been taking part in the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge over at Long and Short Reviews. I've had a great deal of fun with it, so naturally I'm continuing it this year. If you'd like to participate, follow that first link for the list of prompts, and then check the main site for the weekly post with links to everyone's responses (and add your own link, if you're so inclined). 

Today's prompt is "five best places I've visited". I wish I'd given myself more time to prep this one, because I might have been able to come up with some photos. Oh, well. 

5. Matamoros, Mexico. I was about twelve, and I don't remember too much of it; this was back in the eighties. What I do remember is that the area we were in had the feel of a bazaar, with all sorts of strange little shops selling all sort of different things. (I bought myself one of those switchblade combs, probably for a lot more than it was worth.) Mind you, I'm not sure I'd recommend this one on its overall merits -- a lot may have changed in the years since I was there, and a lot of the appeal probably comes from the simple fact that at that age visiting Mexico was a grand adventure -- but I still remember it fondly. 

4. Florence, Italy. This was during one of two study abroad trips that I did in college, and we had a large dinner at a very nice restaurant -- after which I realized that I'd eaten so much that there was no way I could go to sleep. So, I wound spending most of the evening practicing my Spanish with a bunch of Italians on the Ponte Vecchio

3. Chartres Cathedral, France. (Same trip.) The architecture is gorgeous and the crypt is very cool; but it was the labyrinth that really stuck with me. I really want to work that into a story someday.

2. Sewanee, Tennessee. It's a college town, so it's nearly impossible to talk about it without also talking about The University of the South -- but in addition to the University it's set in the middle of some of the last real Wilderness left in the United States. Step off one of the hiking trails, and you're gone. It's within easy walking distance of any number of caves, cliffs, waterfalls, and various combinations of such things. The University has some lovely gothic architecture, including a carillon

1. York, England. (That same study abroad trip.) Lovely city, liked the people, and I still have some postcards from the Jorvik Viking Centre.