So, there it is.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke with my doctor about the results of the chest X-ray I had done yesterday. Everything’s fine in there, which is awfully reassuring since I’m always afraid that something’s just lurking in there around about my lungs or my heart, some Lovecraftian tumor whispering on the threshold of my cardiovascular system, waiting for the lymphocytes to align just right. Something like that.

“So,” I asked, “what’s causing this pain in my side?”

“Probably what the other doctor told you,” he said. “Costal Chondritis is the most likely cause.”

The other doctor had also said I might have a viral infection in my spleen, but that was also unlikely since I don’t have any other symptoms; no fever, nothing like that. So costal chondritis it is.

Now, I did a little bit of research into this condition yesterday (my doctors and my family have all expressly forbidden me from visiting sites like WebMD to look up symptoms, but I figure it’s okay to look up a diagnosis). Turns out it’s most common in infants and young children. It’s sometimes found in adolescents. Very rarely in adults. There’s some hints that chronic asthma or frequent respiratory infections might be a precipitating factor if there’s some sort of injury, but nothing certain. But given that at the time this started I was suffering from a respiratory infection and I had carried two very heavy chairs (80 lbs each) in boxes up the narrow staircase in my house (why? out of sheer cussedness, I think), this all seems very likely. Also the fact that the majority of my time is spent before a computer screen in various bad postures seems to be a factor.

Given that many of the other conditions I have — gout, diverticulitis, hypertension, and high cholesterol — are generally found in people much older than I am, it’s sort of refreshing to be diagnosed with a children’s condition.

Anyway. Ice. Stretching (ideally in a hot shower). Strengthening. The doctor says to avoid the Ibuprofin because it helps but it’s not all that good for you. Oh, and straighten up in the chair.

Over. Done. Damn.

As you can probably imagine, National Novel Writing Month took up most of my free time during November. I finished this year’s project Fred, Again, just a few minutes before midnight on November 30th, and the novel itself clocked in at about 73,000 words. I’m awfully proud of this one; I enjoyed writing it, and those who’ve read it on-line all tell that it’s pretty good, even if the strands of loose plot threads looks like a next of snakes and the characters act inconsistently and sometimes downright bizarre. In spite of those problems, though, I honestly think that Fred, Again has very strong potential. I like all the characters, I like the story, I like the plot, and so on.

So my experience this year with NaNoWriMo has been different than in past years. In past years, I’ve always ended the month with a sense of relief: relief that I no longer had to deal with the thing, that I could finally put it down and forget about it. This year, though, it was with both relief and, surprisingly, deep sadness that I typed “THE END” on the very last page. The story’s done, the characters have all had their say, and things are all wrapped up (well, as wrapped up as a NaNoWriMo project can be, I suppose). But over the past couple of days, I’ve frequently found myself wanting to open up my Fred, Again file and start writing some more. Then I remember: oh, yeah. It’s done. Damn. And I’ve already promised myself to set it aside for at least a month to sort of let it gel before I start revising in January.

But this reinforces to me that my decision to refocus my creative energies away from dark horror toward comedic stuff was the right one. In 2001, my NaNoWriMo project was Unfallen, a novelization of a role-playing game that I had run a year or so earlier. I had fun writing it, but when November 30th hit, I validated my 50,000 words and put the thing aside, never to see the light of day again.

My 2003 project was The Road to Gilead, another one that I had fun writing but once I hit 50,039 words I was unable to write any more. I’ve taken it out often to start working on it again, but I was never able to churn out more than a couple thousand additional words. Again, that one has decent characters as a good plot, but I could never focus on it. That one’s currently languishing, and probably won’t be taken out again until I’m able to take it less seriously.

Last year I wrote The Outer Darkness. It was based on a setting that some friends of mine and I developed for a role-playing game that we were creating. It’s a strong setting with a lot of potential, but I surprised myself by not feeling at all invested in the novel. I wrote 46,000 words of drivel, and then used the remaining 4,000 words to summarize the rest of the plot so that I could get it out of the way. I was going to write a number of novels that take place in that universe, but I can’t seem to come up with any plots that really excite me.

Writing Fred, Again was a totally different experience. See my comments above re: excitement, sorrow, and so on.

So. I’ll probably be setting aside my Terassic Universe ideas for now, because I’m still taking all of them way too seriously. The Mollyverse, though, can easily be re-envisioned. Although some of the stories there are pretty dark, I think that the overall tone of the work is pretty goofy. I have ideas for new rewrites of “Burying Uncle Albert” and “The Winds of Patwin County”, plus ideas for a couple of new stories. I still want to finish that project, because I’ve worked with some of those characters for over twenty years, and the whole thing is pretty fun.

Other news in Richard’s world.


Actually, there isn’t much. Work’s still going well. I’m in the midst of developing a plan for migrating our on-line campus to the next version of Moodle, and that’s going pretty well. I’ve learned from previous heartaches, and I’ve developed an entirely new way of documenting our source code modifications, based on the official format for documenting modifications to the PHP-BB project. I enjoy my co-workers, and it’s just, overall, a good place.

With November over, my website has a new theme featuring Emperor Norton. This is going to be my “default” theme, for those times of the year when there’s no special holiday or event theme (like Halloween, Christmas, or NaNoWriMo) in effect. The Christmas theme will activate on the 17th, I think; honestly, I can’t recall exactly.

And that’s it for now. I have no political observations to make beyond my amusement by the slogan I’ve seen which reads, “God has chosen the Republican Party; why don’t you?” If any human activity shows the depths of depravity and inhumanity and sheer un-Christian behavior that people can demonstrate to each other, it surely is politics, and I can’t imagine God — who, through Jesus, once said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” — immersing Himself in it.

Hm, that was more of a religious observation, wasn’t it?

At the moment, now, I’m listening to a filk song about Godzilla. This is giving me ideas for a new novel. There’s something that’s just incredibly cool about giant radioactive monsters rising up out of the sea and rampaging through major cities, isn’t there? I bet I could write a romantic comedy featuring such critters.

Off I go now.