All posts by Richard S. Crawford

What Dreams Etc., Tempus Fugit, and so on

Misdemeanor the kitten
Ignore the kitten. The kitten is meaningless. Like most dream imagery is.

Whew. I had a doozy of a dream last night.

I won’t go into too many of the details because dreams are mostly boring except to the dreamer. In summary: my bicycle was stolen (by the employees of the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland), along with my credit and bank card. When I got to the bank to replace my card, I discovered that it had been turned into a paycheck cashing store, and had a wait time of eight hours. They were more than willing to let me in and give me expedited service because it was just a bank card I was replacing, but instead they kept me at the desk asking meaningless questions for hours upon end, and when I finally realized they were meaningless, they kicked me out.

Well, whenever I think about time passing, David Bowie’s song “Time Will Crawl” gets into my head, so here it is:

Oh, David Bowie. Too pure for this world.

I don’t really buy into dream analysis or interpretation too much; I believe dreams are mostly best interpreted in a gestaltish sort of way, taking into account everything that the dreamer thinks and believes and knows. “What did the red table in my dream mean?” “Well, what do tables mean to you?” I don’t know, this may be oversimplistic, but it’s a useful way of thinking about my own dreams.

So last night’s dream, what with the troublesome bank manager and the thieving Disneyland employees, was, I think, about wasting time, and that’s something that’s been on my mind a bit lately. In my last post, I wrote a wee bit about my angst surrounding starting library school at age 52 and about the length of time it will take me to get my degree.

Here, I’ll just talk about angst surrounding my writing, because I don’t talk about that nearly enough.

Cover of The Heroine's Journey by Gail Carriger
The Heroine’s Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture

I’ve been reading The Heroine’s Journey by Gail Carriger. It’s a fantastic book, a nice rebuttal of the tired Hero’s Journey that so dominates and pervades most writing. I highly recommend this book, especially to my writer friends.

Unfortunately, this book also has me thinking about writing. Not that this is inherently a bad thing, of course; it just makes me think of all the novels I’ve written, and the ones I’m writing, and the ones I want to write. The Heroine’s Journey is a perfect model, for example, for The Outer Darkness trilogy that I want to write someday, a space opera with heavily religious overtones (based on a role-playing game that I created with some friends back in the late 90s). It’s also a great framework for The X of Doom, my pirate trilogy. Unfortunately, it’s not as good a match to my work in progress, And the Devil Will Drag You Under. And that’s the problem.

Sigh.

I’ve written a number of novels. Here’s a partial list:

  1. Unfallen. A reporter uncovers mysterious goings-on in San Francisco and explores a vast supernatural conspiracy. Based loosely on a World of Darkness RPG I ran.
  2. The Outer Darkness. Wherein a woman whose husband is killed in a mining accident on the planet Anchorage gets involved in an interplanetary war. This has little to do with the above-mentioned trilogy.
  3. The Toymaker. A toymaker in 1850s San Francisco who turns out to be a powerful mage hooks up with a young widow from Boston, and they form a conspiracy to protect a group of supernatural people from being hunted.
  4. The Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster. Once upon a time called Fred Again. Madmen and elder gods vie for control of the Earth in a funny sort of way.
  5. Code Monkey! A Love Story with Occasional Monsters. The subtitle says it all.
  6. Love in the Time of Cthulhu. I only vaguely remember this one. Something to do with two people falling in love in a world which has been taken over by Cthulhu and other cosmic horrors, I think.
  7. Padma. A medical resident comes to terms with death.
Me, getting caught looking at a new project by my work in progress

So why weren’t any of these published? They never made it beyond barf draft, sadly, with the exceptions of nos. 4 and 6. Those two (and parts of 5) got to my critique group. I’d get to the point where it’s time to start revising and then I get caught up in a new project. It’s  tragic, I tell you. And very frustrating.

And the worst part is knowing that if I’d gotten my act together in 2001, when I decided to take writing seriously and wrote Unfallen, I could have finished all of these projects and more and gotten something published.

The biggest danger is that I will give up on my current work-in-progress for either The X of Doom or The Outer Darkness, and abandon And the Devil Will Drag You Under. I definitely don’t want that to happen. I want to be able finish a novel and say that it’s written enough, to the point where I at least do not fear shaming my ancestors when submitting it in queries to agents. None of the novels I’ve listed above are at that point. They are all regretful.

Ah well. What could have been is not necessarily what would have been, as they say. Still, if anyone has any tips for sticking to one thing and not getting distracted, I’d love to hear them.

School report

I’m not depressed right now, but I was in a serious downswing a couple of weeks ago. One on day, I spent most of the day asleep, waking up at 3, then went back to bed at 8. It lasted several days. I’m not often swinging down anymore, not like I was before I finally got treatment, but I felt like the poor sperm whale in the gif above, pulled into the deeps by the kraken of melancholy.

Anyway.

I’m enjoying library school. So far, I feel very competent in it; when working on group projects, my opinions are well-received and considered, and I apparently have a very good academic writing style. And even in semesters where I don’t have any group projects, like the current one, I’m still feeling competent because I can write academically and contribute to discussions with the best of them. I didn’t always feel this way in college, except for in my Philosophy classes and some science classes (I still don’t know how I passed Sociology, though).

What I don’t like thinking about is how long it’s going to take me to get my degree. Between work and every other commitment I’ve got, and for financial reasons, I can only take one class per quarter. I’m not normally one who worries about my age, but I do fear that I will be done with my degree and ready to work in a library with less than ten years until retirement age. This is something that, despite laws that prevent discrimination against older employees, may put off some employers.

I also have not pondered much in the way of a future career. I don’t think I’d have a problem working in a public library, assuming the pandemic comes to an end before my academic career does (and, to be entirely honest, I’m not counting on that). I think I’d have more fun in a special library, perhaps a science library or a museum library. Academic libraries, libraries that are attached to universities, hold little interest for me at this point. I’ve seen what it’s like to be an academic at a university, and it ain’t pretty. While being a staff member at a university isn’t too bad, faculty and academics have to deal with grants, funding, other faculty, and the politics and schmoozing that go with such positions. I’m not made for such things

I should have stuck with the program when I was first in it back in the early aughts, because then I’d be worrying about how to keep whatever job I had rather than pondering what I’m pondering now. Ah well. What could have been isn’t what necessarily what would have been, in the words of some sage.

In other news, here, have an earworm:

This is one of my favorite John Denver songs. I grew up with the music of John Denver — my mom was a fan — and listening to this song reminds me of my childhood, but also of my occasional interest, as a kid, in the ocean and the critters that dwell within. Yes, there was a time when I wanted to be a marine biologist.

I recently applied for a position with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, but they wanted someone with video editing experience, something I lack. I mentioned my interest on social media, and was inundated with advice to “Go for it anyway!” So I did. I’m not disappointed, though. I knew it was a long shot and I’m glad I went for it, even if they turned me down two days later.

My dream of pursuing a career that combines librarianship with science communication and the occasional fiction writing carries on!

 

March 2021 Goals

Well, my good friend T. M. Baumgartner (whose fiction you should definitely check out) has put up some March 2021 goals, so you know what? I’m going to do that too. Maybe make it a thing: a monthly goal post to keep myself honest.

I’m pretty busy (even without the kitten pics), so I guess I have goals in three main arenas:

  • Daikaijuzine: Publish the new release on the 21st. That means making sure all the contracts are in place and the authors are happy with the layouts of their stories and poems and what-not. After that, take a breather before reopening submissions sometime in April.
  • School: Weekly blog posts on my research topic for the month (information-seeking behaviors of cryptozoologists), plus a couple of small papers. Research! Writing! Fun!
  • Writing:
    • Finish up revising the outline for And the Devil Will Drag You Under. I’m using the Save the Cat Writes a Novel method to do so. It’s worked out pretty well so far.
    • Revise two short stories for submission.
    • Keep submitting 2-3 stories per week.
    • Finish reading and critiquing Top Secret Novel for writers’ group meeting on Thursday the 11th.

I also picked up a book called The Craft of Science Writing, so I’m going to be reading that, because the dream lives on.

That’s all I got for now. If my readers are especially nice to me, I might send out a newsletter as well.

How Dare You!

Just a wee kitten on a banana bed, looking grumpy because I dared take her picture while she was napping.

No filters except for Android’s native “enhance” filter. I also cropped the photo so that my foot wouldn’t be visible. That blue thing in the lower left corner is the food plate.

That’s all for today. Did I mention that I added a post to my Penguin Scientific blog? Feel free to take a gander.


Kitten photos for Thingadailies!

Speaking of Kaiju

Tonight we watched Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which I’d been wanting to watch since it first came out in 2019. We’d seen the other movies in the rebooted Godzilla franchise: Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island, so it was inevitable that we’d see this one. Now we’re all ready to watch Kong Vs. Godzilla when that one comes out next month.

I had listened to an episode of the Our Opinions Are Correct podcast this morning which talked about kaiju movies, and which suggested that, just as the original Gojira was an allegory for the US bombing of Japan in the Second World War, these modern films can be seen as an allegory for climate change. I think this is pretty clear. Or, rather, it’s sledged into us with a sledgehammer. It’s an important message.

On the whole, I liked the movie. I think Jennifer has been less impressed with them than I have.

Speaking of kaiju, I went into the office earlier this evening to hang with the kittens and get pictures. I didn’t get very many. In fact, I only got one that I liked. It’s this one:

This is Misdemeanor poking her head into the tower track toy that they like. Sometimes they will put their whole body in, with just their butt and tail sticking out, and I really wanted that picture but alas the kittens weren’t cooperating. It’s an okay picture. Slightly blurry. The lighting in the office is difficult to work with, but I applied the native “enhance” filter that made it all look slightly less yellow. Enh. Let me know what you think.


In other news, I’ve submitted twenty-five stories this year so far. I’ve gotten eleven rejections so far: nine form rejections, and two personal. A personal rejection is nice, because it generally means it’s made it past the slush team into the hands of an editor. Still, I have fourteen outstanding. I’m aiming for one hundred rejections this year.

Okay, that’s oversimplifying things. Obviously, I want to sell stories so I can make some money off this fiction writing thing. But I got a wee bit of flack on social media; one correspondent commented that if they got that many rejections they would stop and assess their entire writing process, because it meant they were doing something wrong. I disagree with that assessment; there are a lot of stories out there, a lot of writers, and not that many well-paying markets.

Besides, I took 2020 off completely from submitting anything, reassessing my entire fiction output, and that did me no good at all. Well, I did submit one story to a writing contest, but got a standard “didn’t even make it to the next round” letter.

Shooting for 100 rejections doesn’t mean I really want to damage my ego anymore than it already is. It really means 100+ submissions, assuming that at least one of those submissions ends in a sale.

Here’s hoping.


Daily kitten pics for Thingadailies!

A wee bit of purrspective

Despite ample opportunities for kibble (see image to the left) this kitten, Filch, would have you know that he hasn’t eaten in EIGHT YEARS today! Not since noon has he received wet food, which is, in kitten years, approximately forever (give or take). When I opened the door to the office where we keep Filch and his siblings (Pilfer and Misdemeanor, for those who aren’t keeping track), there was much whining and crying going on. We have seen these kittens eat kibble, so we know they know how to do so (though the kittens dispute this; fake mews, and all) and find it yummy enough. They just don’t get to eat wet food as often as they want, which is all the time forever.

Goofy kittens.

These pictures aren’t the best pictures I’ve taken, but in my defense it’s hard to take a good picture of  a kitten who is rapidly chomping down on the few remaining molecules of wet food (Pilfer and Misdemeanor having eaten their fill already). So filters were applied.

Filch is also kind of a meanie. I separate the wet food into three piles when I put it on the floor, because we have seen Filch actually reach out a paw and growl to prevent the others from getting to the food where he is eating. Sheesh.

Meanwhile, in other news, I finally got a photograph of our new (to us) car:

Meet Clovis! It’s a 2017 Toyota Prius. The color is called “sea-foam green”. We weren’t sure when we looked at the initial photos on CarMax. Was it green? Was it blue? When CarMax did the initial inspection, they reported it as “green, with blue flecks”. But it turns out if you have your vehicle’s VIN, you can look it up on Toyota’s website and get all the specs on your car, including paint job. Which is how we found out it’s official color.

Here’s hoping no more trees drop down on our cars.


Cat pictures a day for Thingadailies!

Whiners and Diners

These three little ingrates have done nothing productive all day. They just slept in their fuzzy bed (which you can see in this picture) and occasionally whined at us when it was time to feed them. They have particular desires when it comes to feeding time. One full can of wet food, please, on a large plate so that Filch (in the middle) can eat his without growling at the others.

I took this image on my morning break when I went through the office where these guys are staying to get to the bathroom. I like that they’re all looking up at me. Mostly. I cropped the original picture by about a third and then applied Google’s built-in “Enhance” filter.


Kitten pics for Thingadailies!

So you thought…

…that I would post an entry a day with a kitten (or two) a day for the month of February? Well, so did I. But between school and work and writing and editing stories for Daikaijuzine, I found myself somewhat busy. Still, kittens will kitten, so I took a couple of pictures the other day!

This is Pilfer. I like super close-up pictures of kittens and cats for some reason, so this one (which I actually took in selfie mode because he was facing away from me — fortunately you cannot see my face) I had to keep.

And Misdemeanor! She’s very whiny. I caught her in a thoughtful moment. Who knows what she’s pondering?

I didn’t edit either picture much, aside from applying the phone’s built-in “enhance” filter. The lighting in our home library, where these pictures were taken, is pretty bad, so the filter was necessary to make the pictures tolerable. I think I’m getting better at framing the shots.

Still no pictures of the new car, I’m afraid. Every time I head out to run an errand (approximately once per week in these plague times) I think to myself, as I head out the door, that I ought to take a picture of the car. But something happens when I get to the bottom of the stairs, and the thought flies from my head. Soon, though!


Kittens for Thingadailies!

More kittens!

…And here are Wellerman (front, looking grumpy), and Shanty (rear, looking hopefully at the ceiling) seated together on a kitty sofa which we bought a couple of months ago. They’re cute, right? This is a pretty raw pic and the flash probably wasn’t necessary. I took another picture shortly after this one from a different angle, but Jennifer posted that one to the House of Floof page on Facebook and Instagram, so I think it was a good one just based on that.

In other news, we have acquired a new car. It’s a 2017 Toyota Prius, of course, and it’s a strange color that occupies that liminal space between light green and light blue (the salesperson who looked it over said it was green with blue spots). I tracked down the car to the Toyota website, and found that its “official” color is sea-foam green. We have named the car Clovis for no good reason other than because it sounded good. Pics forthcoming.

And in yet other news, this weekend is Boskone 58. Boskone is a science fiction and fantasy convention that I’ve been wanting to go to for years, but it’s in Boston in winter, which has always been such a deterrent for me. But this year, because of the covid-19 pandemic, it’s completely online. That’s super, because I get to see the panels and panelists and talks and what-not, but not-so-super because gosh darn it I really miss going to in-person conventions and meeting people at random in the hallways or at meals.

UPDATE: This little chucklehead is Pilfer. Like his siblings (Filch and Misdemeanor) he is about five weeks old, closing in on six. He’s very friendly, and has a loud purr. He’s been known to put his whole head into my mouth when I’m holding him and I yawn. I can’t help but wonder what he’s thinking. “What’s in there? So fascinating!”

That’s all for today. Tune in later, maybe even tomorrow, for more quality content.

Fuzzy Nation

This little chowderhead is Filch, and he’s about five and a half weeks old. I like this picture, because, well, I like kitten closeups. I just wish I’d gotten him to look directly at the camera. But he’s young so he moves around a LOT.

This is his sister Misdemeanor — Missy, Misty, or Miss-D for short. I think she looks kind of grumpy in this picture, don’t you? She’s not normally a grumpus, though. She was just kind of sleepy when I took this picture. Well, also the kittens had just gotten their first vaccines, and had blood drawn, and their momma cat had gone away. So yeah, I guess they had a right to be grumpy.

These two critters (and their brother Pilfer, whom I did not get a good picture of this morning) are current fosters of ours. Their momma kitty, Carmen (as in Sandiego), went back to her own home yesterday, so these three have been successfully weaned and are living wild and free on their own. I feel like it’s sad to let three kittens be on their own when their momma cat moves away, but that’s the way of cats in the world, and these three guys will be just fine.

In other news, we picked up our new (to us) car last night. We bought it online through CarMax, because we did not want to have to fuss with salespeople trying their hardest to upsell us to features we don’t want or need in a car. Heated side mirrors! Built-in GPS (which we’d never use because we have Google Maps on our phones)! Etc.! No, we knew what features we wanted, and shopped around on the CarMax website until we found the one we wanted, and arranged to buy it. We only got the one car; we’re going to try being a one-car household for awhile. Right now, we’re both working at home 100% anyway, we hardly go anywhere, and even when I am commuting to work, my commute is only six miles which takes me twenty minutes on a bad day.

CarMax did not hardsell anything to us aside from additional warranties, which we expected. So that was fine.

All in all, not a bad time was had yesterday (except, perhaps, by the kittens).


Thingadailies!