Category Archives: Writing

Entries where I talk about my writing: stories, novels, general creativity.


The other night I went to go hang out with Evilpheemy, which I don’t do as often as I wish I could. Sadly, we both have lives, which sometimes gets in the way of these things. We went and ate sushi along with his three-month-old daughter, who was amazingly well-behaved throughout the meal, and then went back to his place to shoot the breeze and ponder the creative project we’ve been trying to put together for over three years now. To his credit, Evilpheemy has been doing a lot more on this project than I have. While I was churning out 50,000 words of Unfallen for NaNoWriMo, Evilpheemy was churning out 30,000 words of Outer Darkness. But now that the novel is done, I’ll have time to churn out 50,000 words of OD. Yeah, right.

For those of you who want to know, Unfallen is a novelization of a role-playing game which I started running about two years ago, with AB, SL, Daughter-of-Midnight (wife of Evilphemmy), and Purplkat. It involved modern mages in a dark version of San Francisco, monsters, a worldwide epidemic of nightmares, and even other levels of reality. And the 50,000 words that I wrote is apparently only Part One. Somehow, a new villain showed up at the end of Part One; I let him show up just to watch what he did, and I found myself surprised that his presence helped clarify a lot of long-term plot confusions that I’d been having. The bigger challenge will be writing Parts Two and Three of this thing, since they involve traveling through time to periods of history that I know nothing about.

After visiting with Evilpheemy, I decided that I missed the old gang, so I went to the UC Davis campus where Second Progeny, a live-action role-playing game which is a spinoff of a game I once ran, was being played. It was good to see some of the friends that I hadn’t seen for a long time, and catch up with some of them. I even made a promise that I would play an occasional character in the storyteller’s new game when it begins in January. Once I had forsworn all live-action role-playing. Now it looks like I’m allowing myself to be sucked in again… but only a little bit.

What else is going on in my life these days? I took Jennifer down to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, and that was great. I know that she had a good time, and my family thinks that Jennifer is the cat’s pyjamas. I come from a smart family. Weight Watchers went to hell over Thanksgiving weekend, and I gained a couple of pounds. But life goes on.

But speaking of weight, today I went and saw my doctor for the first time in nearly ten months. Thanksgiving-related poundage aside, he was pleased with me for having lost nearly thirty pounds since the first time he’d seen me, and more pleased (as I was) that my blood pressure is starting to look like a normal person’s blood pressure. Unfortunately, I will probably have to stay on hypertension medication for quite awhile longer, but now it’s at least working.

The job hunt continues, but not very encouragingly. I’ve had exactly one interview since I got laid off, in spite of all of the resumes, the contacts, the leads that turn out to be red herrings. I remember when I was looking for work when I had first decided to make my career change; I couldn’t keep the recruiters back. Now, none of the recruiters that I worked with before have anything for me. Sign of the times, I suppose. Ah, well. I’ve decided that if this keeps up through January, I’ll take a part-time job, at least. I don’t think I’d mind that; some of the best jobs I’ve ever had were the part-time McJobs that you can’t avoid after college. I think working in the video store was best. I’m hoping that I can get that one again.

On the schooling front, I’ve been continuig to do the research for the professor in hydrology. This week I’m in the main library at UC Davis researching comparative efficacies of different rainfall simulators. And the professor has also asked me to help out in his water analysis lab as well, so this Friday I’m meeting with the graduate student that I’ll be replacing so that I can learn the ropes. That’ll be interesting.

My wife has engaged in something called "Holidailies", and she challenged me the other night to participate as well. I had to decline. While I had no doubt that I could come up with 50,000 words in November, I doubt that I could come up with a journal entry every single day of the entire month.

And that’s what’s going on in my head today. Nothing profound or even interesting.

The Hardest Cut

Jennifer dared me to participate in National Novel Writing Month, and, so, of course I signed up. Producing fifty thousand words in thirty days? What the heck? I dug out some notes on an old novel that I was planning on writing about three years ago and began to outline, but at the last minute — about 11:45 on October 31, to be exact — I decided to write something completely different instead. So I’ll be writing the novel Unfallen, which is based on a role-playing game that I ran a couple of years ago. It was one of the players from that game who suggested it. "Because I really want to know if I was my own evil twin or not!" she said.

So on Thursday I sat down and started writing Chapter One. This morning I finished it and began writing Chapter Two. So far I have about 4,000 words written. I’m almost 10% done!

The scary thing, though, is going through my old notes from the game and realizing that there’s no way I can possibly include everything that I want to in just fifty thousand words. The plot that I had developed for the game is marvelously complex, spanning several centuries and continents and with as many twists and turns as I could possibly devise (of course, I was creating the plotline for five players, and I have always had a policy when running role-playing games that every player deserves to be screwed with as much as possible). Now that I’m writing the thing up as a novel, I’m discovering that I can’t make the plot nearly as complicated and intricate as I really want to. I have to cut a lot out, and while I know it will actually be a better novel for the reduced intricacy, it still hurts. It’s like giving up your children for medical experimentation or something.

Overall, though, NaNoWriMo has been a lot of fun. So far, at least. Now I have an excuse to actually stay up late, drinking coffee until almost midnight. And my wife — on the principle of "darers go first" — is doing it with me. I’ve read chapter one of her novel, and I think it’s quite good.

On another note, I just finished reading a horror novel called Black Dawn by D. W. Stern. My tastes in general do run towards the apocalyptic, and this novel is about as apocalyptic as they come. I admit that I was disappointed in the ending; there are times when I think a novelist just gets tired of writing something, and winds up rushing the ending. Loose ends get left untied, and the narrative pace gets choppy. There were about twenty pages left to the end, and none of the major plotlines had been resolved; I had determined that this book was part one of a series, even though there was no advertising to that effect on the cover or in the summary; and, yet, the author ended the novel with no room for sequel.

On the other hand, it was a pretty well-written novel, and I admire the author for having the guts to kill off major characters before the novel is even halfway done. Many writers are reluctant to do that.

I admit that I was reluctant to read an apocalyptic novel, with the world in the state that it is currently in. Of course, I know that we’re not facing the End of the World, but anyone who knows me will attest that I’ve been a worrier since childhood (in fact, I remember going into deep denial when I was ten or so, refusing to accept that there might be a black hole at the center of our galaxy — I actually had nightmares about that). But Black Dawn was just too intriguing for me to pass up. I’m glad I read it; it wasn’t a spectacular book, but it was decent enough.

Being unemployed is a nice feeling right now. I have plenty of productive things to do while I look for a new job: plenty of reading to catch up on, plenty of writing, plenty of learning. I’m enjoying participating in the stream sampling field research. I’ve got three major creative projects going on at the moment — Unfallen, my novel for NaNoWriMo; Worlds’ End, a Dungeons and Dragons campaign that I’ll eventually be running; and Outer Darkness, a science fiction/horror role-playing game that I’ve been developing with Evilpheemy for a couple of years now.

And, of course, when I get a new job, something will have to be dropped from my list of things to do. Will it be the writing? The reading? The field research? Just like the intricacies of my novel’s plot, something will have to be cut. I only hope that my new job will be worth it.