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Archive for December, 2017

The Last Progress Report

Posted by Dirck on 28 December, 2017

Oh, wait, that should have “…of 2017” on it.  How sadly click-bait-y of me.

I’m doing this somewhat to camouflage the complete lack of progress on the novel this week, although if pressed I will shout something about wanting to relax and enjoy a day off with my family.  And then having to do other stuff during writing time yesterday.  It happens.

So, what of the year just passed?  I won’t just dwell on the writing, and frankly I won’t have anything at all to do with the situation of the wider world.  You can get at a reputable news outlet just as easily as I can, if you want to spend some time lamenting.

I will start with the writing, though.  You will of course remember this from August:

Well, let me show you its kids:

Three gauges reading 68.9, 57.6, and 46.22

Huey, Screwy and Blooey

What’s with the triplets? Well, you’ll remember that I mentioned back in November that my estimate of length seemed off.  Rather than abolish the probably-wrong dial, which is also the closest-to-done, I supplemented.  The least-done dial represents what the November measurement of first-draft thickness suggested.  The middle child is a mere average of the two, and on the most recent application of ruler to manuscript it seems to actually reflect reality.  This means that I can confidently declare that I am somewhere between eight and twenty weeks from finishing a second draft which will be between 254 and 379 pages long.  I will gild this uncertainty by declaring it to represent comfortable margins.

Proper professional writers will, I’m sure shake their heads at this, and I’ll accept that.  I’m not under contract, I’ve got no deadline; I’ll take what comfort the latter provides, given the chilly winds blowing from the former.

I would also, had I not been banging away at the novel, be a little worried about an apparent loss of momentum represented by this:

Oh, no! He’s falling to bits!

Now, when I add in the progress on the novel, which I don’t include in that chart until it’s actually finished, then it’s… actually, now I am starting to think I’m losing my powers, because it’s just shy of 60,000 for the year.  Perhaps I will claim the suppressant effect so many writers have noted inflicted upon them by the political events of the year.

But, to end the writing portion of this retrospective on a high note, I will remind myself that I made a sale to a relatively big-deal publication… which I still decline to mention until things are a little more certain.

Yes, I showed this recently. I show it again, because it releases endorphins every time I do so.

This went home in exactly this state (clicky for bigness, if you want to gander at the horror in detail).

In the pen department… no huge triumphs, but no horrifying debacles, either.  I didn’t utterly smash anything (important)(that wasn’t mine)(that wasn’t already mostly broken), which is nice when repairing pens.  I did fetch up against a Parker 61 which was utterly resistant to repair– bits were loose which shouldn’t be, and those that needed to be to do something about couldn’t be undone because of the loose bits.

Sleek, to be certain. Very sleek.

The latter part of the year brought a couple of minor triumphs.  Yesterday’s pen, the Sheaffer Taranis, was something I had been very curious about since its release four years ago, and a recent sale brought one within financial reach.  Hurray!  Happily, ‘curiosity’ is not quite the same thing as ‘desire,’ so the appearance of the actual object did not bring with it a shattering disappointment.  It did not, alas, bring glee, either.  I was completely whelmed by it, neither over- nor under-, because it was very nearly precisely as I had expected it, and I had expected it to be good enough as a pen but not particularly amazing… and almost certainly not worth as much as Sheaffer wanted for it.

One of the other pen purchases of the year did bring glee.  I have been intermittently enthusiastic about TWSBI for some time, but even with that as a background, I was surprised by how much I enjoy writing with their Classic.  I suspect I’ve got an unusually good example of the 1.1mm point, a real point-bit-of-bell-curve individual.  This combines with amazing mileage (if you check back, you’ll find I’ve been using the same load of ink since the end of October, and it still doesn’t quite need a reload) to fill me with glee, to the extent that I’m amazed I haven’t been shouting “You must buy a TWSBI Classic if you hope to lead a happy life!” into the faces of strangers I pass in the street.  It really is jolly nice.

Of course, you might not like this colour. That’s cool– they’ve got others.

This past year, then, was not so very terrible for me as an individual.  And I’m very, very aware how lucky I am in this.  I hope, indeed, I almost literally grovel in the dirt in hopes of convincing Fate that it will treat me no worse in 2018.  And, as the new year looms up on our collective horizon, I’ll hope that you are all treated at least as well.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Snorkel Sovereign
Today’s ink: Herbin Violette Pensée


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Joyeux Kerstfeest, Y’all

Posted by Dirck on 22 December, 2017

I hope you’re all done the necessary running around, and have plenty of free time to bake shortbread or speculaas or stollen… or in fact to not do any of that and just sit in a contented heap with people you want to spend your time with.

This last one takes a while to get through, and I suspect it’s not to all tastes, but it’s worth a look at the manifestation of Christmas Past and the treatment of the Christmas Yet To Be segment.

Stay warm, be happy, and I’ll make words at you next week.

Today’s pen: Waterman Phileas
Today’s ink: Montblanc Racing Green

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Posted by Dirck on 21 December, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  • 3,526 words typed.

Thank you, extended action sequence! That balances out last weeks miserable plodding nicely.

This week has been remarkably productive, indeed.  Not only that great outpouring of novel, but I got a little story up on the other enterprise as well, AND… well, let me show you a very nice thing indeed from my profile on Submittable:

I have not been diligently submitting my stories, since most of my thoughts are filled with novel, but I have been poking away at it, and that poking had pulled out a plum!  I won’t mention the name of the publication just yet, fearful of drawing the ire of Fate under the Counting Of Chickens Act of 1609; rest assured, there will be a big fat link to them as the date of presentation firms up.  This is a pretty wonderful Christmas present for me, even if it did appear a couple of weeks ahead of the official day of HoHoHo.


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Tinkling of the Season

Posted by Dirck on 15 December, 2017

Good news, everyone!  A change of location within the Regular Job building, which I somehow failed to moan about here last winter, puts me very very very far away from the radio which produces Offensively Repetitive Christmas Music (with Some Country Versions), with a couple of walls and a ninety degree bend in the building to complete the isolation.  I am blessed with silence, at least as far as seasonal tunes not of my own choosing go.  One of the primary generators of Humbuggery in my life has been shut down, and I am far more able to say Merry ChristmasSeasons GreetingsHappy Holidays, and Gruss vom Krampus without a scowl and a snarl.  Except that last one, because the snarl is traditional.

Since I am thus liberated from woe and light of heart, let me now inflict some of my less classical musical choices on you.  If you choose to listen.  No one will make you press play.

Now get out there and smile at the other people in the shops.  You’re all trying to brighten the world, right?

Today’s festive pen: Waterman Phileas
Today’s reflective ink: Montblanc Racing Green

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Posted by Dirck on 14 December, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  •  1539 words typed.  Wait… what?!

Yeah, that word count is accurate.  Technically.  I did a stupid thing yesterday– I took another look at my first chapter.  It seems that despite having been conscious at the time, or so I claim, I did not apply sufficient thought to the thing.  It needed a good deal of work, because it spent a sad amount of energy introducing a character who does not appear in any subsequent chapter.

That is… not a good way to tell a story.  I know this.  I have known this for a while.  Why I forgot entirely not only back in August but also the previous November (second draft, yes?) is a dark mystery.  At least I noticed it before I handed it around to a lot of readers, so I haven’t damaged my reputation in the eyes of any but myself– and I’m well aware than I’m a vast collection of flaws lodged in a matrix of well-marbled meat.

The fix, which had created a vastly superior opening chapter, did so at the cost of about eight hundred words of length.  Eight hundred gangrenous words that needed to go, certainly, but however medically necessary, an amputation always leaves a smaller patient.  That and a relatively steep bit of revision on the part of the story I was already working on this week produces what looks like a very poor week for output indeed.

But I am working, damn it.  To the spectral figure of Work Ethic who floats about my head, I say stop hounding me!

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Childhood Joys

Posted by Dirck on 8 December, 2017

I am a couple of days late with a reference to Sinterklaasje, but if I’m in the “Happy Holidays!” camp, I can hardly strain at that sort of imprecise targeting.  In point of fact, the only connection between the yearly visit of Sinterklaas and his uncomfortably caricatured sidekick and today’s stolen film is piles of Dutch kids (mostly happy), but that’s OK, too.

I visited this joint in 1976, and it was almost unchanged from what you’ve just seen.  I was shocked to see a roller coaster rising above the trees when I drove near to it in 1998, but without a child in tow there was no reason to look in and see what other changes might have transpired.  I may try to keep it that way, because there’s a certain purity of joy to the recollections of my long-ago visit.

Today’s pen: Parker Frontier
Today’s none-the-less-decorative ink: Herbin Perle Noire

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Posted by Dirck on 7 December, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  • 2744 words typed

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Unpaid Advertising

Posted by Dirck on 1 December, 2017

I won’t try to claim that this is anything other than an ad while tries to get you to buy something.  It it, at least, a something with a lot of hand-crafting involved.

I don’t even have one (largely because that amount of human labour puts the brand beyond my means), but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the artisty.

Today’s slightly more pedestrian pen: Sheaffer Targa
Today’s ink, suited to pens of all degree, however grand or humble: Skrip Black

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