Toshi's Here!!!!!!

Sorry I didn't blog this yesterday afternoon when she came. She showed up EARLY - they said between four and six PM and she came at 3:30! I was outside the door to greet her. I looked, and there was the brown truck. Whoohoo! Went outside and yelled and cheered, waved my cane, pointed at the door, pointed at the sign and the driver laughed his head off.

Got her inside and ripped open the package to wild cheering in the chat room! Whoohoo! Most of the box was more box and packing materials. Erik did a great job of packing her safely for travel, with sort of foam stuff wrapped in plastic filling a box inside another box for heavy sturdiness.

Erik was right, WinME does run fast on her and so does Word, to my utter astonishment. What I didn't realize was that her monitor's brighter with better resolution than either of the regular monitors on my desktops! Or that the image area is almost an inch larger? That was something I really didn't expect. Shows you how inefficient monitors scraped up off the curb are likely to be? LOL

I'm sitting here in quiet rapture and deep gratitude. This laptop got me in the gut. My friends pulled together a fund and bought her for me, many of them anonymously, I'm just... stunned. It's hard to describe my feelings, because this ... it goes beyond Christmas mornings and things like that, it says a million good and beautiful things I want to pass on and share somehow. And I'm a wordy old weirdo, so I'll try.

This laptop's freedom.

In chat, talking to Melinda, who's writing a great mainstream biker novel, I realized that what motorcycles are to bikers, laptops have always been to me. The ones I had in the past were a bit like the sort of ratty junkyard type of machine. Toshi is not ratty junkyard machine. Toshi is more like a HOG, just too cool and too fast and too free, with a huge vast hard drive and high RAM and runs Word quick. Toshi is - I can do this anywhere. I could just get in a car with someone and go. If I got a car, I could even run the voice software on Office and dictate stories while driving. And everything is all there...

Everything is all there once I'm done with the file transfers, that is. :)

Toshi is also in some ways like moving into a new apartment. Today, when I got up, I spent... about three hours shoveling files in Ema to get the folders ready to store on a zipdisk, something I should have done a while back and put off. I know that I put it off because I wanted to get it all done at once. Get the files organized for backup, then back up to Toshi and back up to Sonata through the network cables that I haven't hooked up yet. I have serious setup to do here. I estimated it would take about a week to get everything set up, and after that it'll be maintenance.

Time Management is becoming something very bizarre around here.

I'm getting things done. Last night I did a little of the setup inside Toshi and worked on developing her file system, which I'm trying to get the mess that's Ema's sorted into. What I may do is just empty all the folders and heap all the stuff together and start sorting that way - the new system is based on stage of story or novel, not on genre. I had too many folders like "More Stories" and couldn't even tell what's done or not - so there's now Novel Partials, Novel Roughs, Novel Rewrites; Story Partials, Story Roughs, Story Rewrites, Article Partials, Article Roughs, Article Rewrites and 2002 Submissions and... to my delight... 2002 Sales.

The big clean empty hard drive inside Toshi is like moving into a new apartment or house that doesn't even have all its furniture yet and nothing's unpacked or put away. Like, damn it's clean! Being empty, it's very organized! Those folders are sitting there like brand new clean empty file cabinets that I could easily find anything in, because there's nothing in them yet!

Stories change title. Stories change genre in rewrite. Stories mutate all over the place and I am beginning to appreciate the benefits of organization. Novelists who are usually just novelists may laugh their heads off, because they've got what, a dozen, a couple of dozen projects? If they each get a folder that's fine. Easy to tell what's going on ...but I have over a hundred articles written and over a hundred old SelfHelp articles that could get rewritten into other articles and a serious whomping lot of stories, at the moment I don't even remember how many finished short stories I've got. The fiction is a serious mess. I just write it and stuff it in my hard drive and most of it's unsold roughs that need rewrite. The big fat folders are Story Roughs and Story Rewrites. Those actually outnumber Partials and Ideafile is its own folder.

And here I am with two paid sales, waiting for checks that will start changing my life. Checks that are tangible, positive PROOF that I was not just laying some scam line on all those people at the shelter or in the agencies. They were wrong about me. So wrong. Because if I made bead jewelry instead of writing stories and articles, I would be looking at this stack of cardboard boxes filled with stuff, good finished stuff mixed with unfinished, nothing tagged or priced or sorted as to what goes to what fair or event.

It's enough that if I get organized and as soon as I'm done with that Chazho rewrite, start chewing through the stock... I could get a pretty decent income going from short stuff. As long as I get in a habit of flow through and go on writing short stuff after sending out short stuff. And keep the rhythm every pro writer has pounded into me since I was 21 and started meeting pro writers: do not let the stuff sit unsubmitted after rejections. I'm at work right now doing the Job part of the best job on Earth. Simultaneously executive and file clerk. I've also realized 'file clerk' is a good rumination activity, because I'm working on the outline for Magic in the Streets while sorting.

In about three hours, I managed to get every loose file in My Documents shoveled into a category folder. The category folders are a mess, but I may sort them in Toshi. She runs faster. There's also a level of filing and orgnization that's cumulative, in that when I sit down to do a story or article rewrite and look for one to work on, I can file and categorize everything I look at when I look at it. What's more important is getting the rough folders for those categories into a zipdisk and then installing the zipdrive onto Toshi and unloading the unsorted boxes. A lot like the process of moving, except that since files are being copied my familiar old environment will still look the same. The 'putting away' is often a slower process, unpacking one box at a time to make gradual cumulative improvement.

I've got a ton of work ahead of me, but it just doesn't feel as overwhelming - because I do have all the means to do it right in reach. That makes all the difference. And with two recent sales, I've got a driving need to get it done too and prepare for the expedition.

That's it. That's what it feels like. I've got all my electronics in order, the Palm hasn't been sent yet but the Palm is a joy that's not an essential. Toshi is mobile base of operations either across town, across country or across the room to get something done on bad days. And my feeling about this machine is a lot like looking at the nice new used Land Rover packed with the supplies to make it to the site in the Congo or the Amazon... even been through the carwash and totally reconditioned, new to me and rough and rugged and capable of everything I need her to do. There's a glorious sense of adventure about laptops.

The expedition is from Welfareland to the wilds of Writersterritory, a pretty remote kind of Shangri La that I've dreamed of all my life. I didn't expect to go through Welfareland to get there, but I'm on the edges of it now and it's real. All the suburban kids back at my high school who dreamed and grumbled and vaguely wanted to do something fun instead of something miserable found other compensations, a few went on adventures of their own, like Gabrielle who threw over Juilliard (doesn't teach composing to girls) in favor of airline piloting. Most probably stayed right there in that area and got jobs or went to college and got jobs, got married, had kids, had good or bad luck with that but eventually 'grew up and gave up the dream.' I didn't. This laptop has the resonance that a portable typewriter did when I was one of those kids. This is the beginning, the real beginning of the big adventure that my life's always been.

Knowing it came from my friends, that moves me down where joy comes from. I need to use it well and make good things happen and pay forward. We are all going to make it. Welfareland for all its splendid horrors and dreadfully dramatic anecdotes and mighty themes was only a side trip after all.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


First Pro Sale

One down, two to go. "Crossthought on the Hatestream" sold to gothic.net - at pro rates! Two more and I've made my goal.

It's only a beginning...

Toshi still isn't here. They tried again last night at 9pm when it was dark out - and didn't see the sign. Or the note was just that they handled it and decided to try today.

Vigil again - with good news while I'm waiting!!!!

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Toshi Sighting!

Yes, Erik got a tracking number, and we found out the truth of what happened. UPS, which has made other deliveries to my apartment on the basis of Ground Right, apparently put a different driver on the job. They tried to deliver Toshi on Friday and posted "need apartment number." My building hasn't actually got apartment numbers. It's possible that with a 21 pound package, they took a look at that hill and decided "Whoops, that's too much of a climb without apartment numbers."

They did deliver another package today, to the wrong door. Tiny little package from Allikat wound up at Ground Left because my neighbor's door faces the street and mine faces the side.

I am putting up signs in my window for them, like for a tag sale or an event or a party. UPS HERE with an arrow pointing toward the door. I'm thinking of doing the letters in electrical tape since I don't have a marker big enough to really do it justice. And if I had neon posterboard I'd use that.

I won't be going over to Andrew's this week because after Erik called to give them very detailed directions including Ground Right, Side Door, Under the Porch and my phone number to identify the unit, I will be staying home waiting for my package again. This time though, my day-vigil will not be in vain... and I could stand to take a week to rest up without going out at all actually. After what I did to my back and leg getting fed up and cleaning the kitchen, it's a good thing to stay in.

Once that laptop is here, well, it won't take much setup for me to just start pulling things off Ema's hard drive and then flop in the comfy chair or in bed to work on stuff! I used to have a laptop. I remember all the things that I did with it that relieved my back, it's the difference between "bad days I can still write" and "bad days are pointless."

Robert and Ari >^..^< (He's happy about it! He was purring! Honest! He did learn to purr! He's a good human...)



Toshi still isn't here yet. Yes, it's the day after. I slept four hours last night, went to bed at two. Not getting a lot done, as I know I'm going to be changing direction real fast when the package with my laptop and network cables gets here. That hub moves files at 10mb a second. It will not take that long to suck all the files from Ema and set them up in Toshi's hard drive.

At that point, long cords and a long modem cord are going to send me across the room either into the Comfy Chair or back to bed. I can't tell if this is a bad back day or just the normal symptoms of just having got up, it will be a couple of hours and some coffee before I can tell if it's a bad day.

The troubles and delays and confusion about getting this laptop to my house are all going to be hilarious after she gets here. I can see it. I'm laughing anyway, but I'm still sitting around Waiting for Toshi and it would be nice to finally, finally get all that stuff done!

Robert and Ari >^..^< (It's not hot today! I'm laying in my window...)


Continued... In the heat of the afternoon, I did nap. Got in about three hours of sleep. A package came while I slept, but it wasn't UPS and wasn't Toshi. Last time the brown truck came at seven or even a little later, so now I'm just coming to the point they might be making those residential deliveries in the evening. All I slept through was the possible sight of the truck going the wrong way getting out of town.

Must have been a bit after seven, it is today at any rate. Seven even at the moment. So now is the tension. I don't know how late they make home deliveries or when their shift's over and the trucks just go back to the depot. Whoops, too many deliveries, try again. Tension is bizarre...

Robert and Ari >^..^<
Polyamorous electronic perversity...

Knights of old used to sit up all night on vigil thinking about their spirituality or who they wanted to whack or what they wanted to do with the damsels or whatever... now once again, I, the night creature spewing out way too many weird words, am on vigil. For the day. Drawing vampire bats in Gimp while looking at a weird colored planet with green fuzzy stuff on the ground, green scribbly stuff on the trees and a bizarrely pale sky that's wondering whether it's cloudy or blue.

It's not hot yet, it says it's going to be, but online it says it won't be that hot that long. It'll get hot and then rain with a lot of thunder and sudden cool air and then be nice for a couple of days.

This is the day Toshi comes. Yes, I actually linked to the page at the site that sold her. There are half a dozen others. Toshi is wonderful. Toshi is freedom in more ways than I can describe. That's 'they can't take my job away' freedom in the worst case, and it's more that when I have to go out to appointments and things, she's with me. And with her, my WIP.

Granted, I always carry a paper notebook anyway, but having Toshi on me beats that by more than I can describe. If I have to go out, inevitably about half the time I'm out is spent in waiting rooms. If I've got Toshi with me it's not wasted time and I don't have to pay attention to the dreary surrounds. Or worse, start to think of myself as belonging there.

I wrote up 1,400 words on a second draft of a note to therapist. That came down from over 3,000 when I realized that I hadn't said anything new. The only difference was that it was down on paper. I canceled today's appointment, just phoned in and canceled. It conflicted with the day the laptop's coming, and my laptop is going to bring me tangible relief to back and leg - getting the leg swelling again. Weird and annoying and painful, it started with leg cramps and rapidly swelled again. So I'm elevating it again under the desk on pillows and hopefully will be typing flat on my back with it raised over my head when Toshi's here. Even when I don't go out, she helps.

There have been a lot of different days I've waited and one that I waited up this long for her only to wind up with a much smaller package. Today though, she ought to be here for real. With all her cables and cords, ready to connect with everything else and start backing up everything I've done in a way that won't leave my side here on out.

Robert and Ari >^..^<


Sunday morning ... tearing into my homework, hitting the book over and over and pounding it till I get it right. I don't think I've ever made that many changes to something before I even hit page one on it. But it's interesting. I do not actually have a WIP at the moment in my usual state of "Heyyy wow, Chapter Next" linear writing. I've never prewritten this much. I'm doing a killer rewrite and a kickbutt prewrite at the same time and I haven't lost connection with either.

I'm starting to see some benefits to planning and outlining and organizing a novel. It still has a lot of momentum and I'm changing things back and forth more often than I usually do. But keeping focus. The villain went from 'no villain' because it's a lot of petty, ordinary villains, to 'really nasty villain' to a villain that synthesizes both and is absolutely chilling. The book's balance shifted between urban fantasy, mainstream magical realism and horror. It will come just short of being horror. I think the horrific element, the evil spirit itself, is just going to give momentum to my hairy little hero's character. He is heroic. He's a good cat and a good person and all the little snippets he's in, that either of them are in, he shines. I have one more bit of homework before the big plunge. 500 words of action scene. And I can trim to precisely five hundred words. I've been doing that on all the exercises - go a little over, tighten a bit, then maybe add one word to bring it back up. That one word from 999 to 1,000 even is always for some reason a powerful word that adds a lot to it. I go hunting over the whole thing for the best place to put that word, where it would clarify or detail something important.

I think I'm beginning to understand why these processes aren't colliding. They're both critical processes. They're both the editorial side of my brain, not the freewheeling right brain "wing it" process. I can tell very easily which book I'm focused on. The worlds are different, characters, everything. And yet it doesn't matter when I get down to tightening a paragraph, killing weasel words or bringing it in at length.

I'm enjoying it because while it's difficult at times, it's not impossible and I'm getting it.

I knew that I'd reach this point, when rewriting would not be some terrifying ego-shattering admission my writing wasn't good the way it was but a craftsmanlike process applying the sander, laying on thin coats of varnish and stain, gilding in the little cracks and detailing the sound good work I did on the rough. My rough for Chazho does not really suck. Its plot is good, its pacing rough in places, and I think there's just one scene in there that when I get to it I'll just rip it out and redo it from a different point of view. Same events, change the point of view. Head hopping got way out of hand and it was one guy's point of view through most of it and that scene wasn't his point of view. But I know what happened, so it won't be that hard to fix it. Two characters have a similar "voice" and turn of phrase who shouldn't: they're from different worlds. The more foreign one will now have a slight "BBC secondhand British" accent, he's still fluent and witty but he'll be fluent and witty like a chap who's had a language course and occasionally at moments of high stress fall into his own syntax. Tiny little world building detail: anything I have to explicate in the same paragraph or so in every novel in that setting will get an alien word for it. Obviously the concept is important enough for them that they have a word. That means its dictionary definition gets repeated in a little one page Alien Glossary that can just be reprinted on all of them, and mentioned in collapsed form within the book when the term comes up and someone's not used to it - or blown past and shown in how the word's used. Did Anne McCaffrey have to stop and explain what a Weyr was? In the first book there was a grand introduction to the weyrs or dragon caverns. Later on it was just 'Yeah, they flew up to the weyr.' Most of my alien glossary should work like the term 'weyr' in relation to my world.

Back when I wrote it, I knew those things were important but hadn't thought of just coining a nice memorable often repeated term. They time travel. They have a concept of "prophecy" or "destiny" that specifically means 'you're on a time loop bub, find a way to make sure the future gets the footage even if you fake it, the document has to exist.' They have another for people from the future and the possibly unreliable comments they make about their time (people lie, so this isn't on the level of documentation). They were always saying 'there was a vision' and they mean footage. So it'll get a nice alien word and a related alien word for the person who came back to mention it or look it up or even verify it. I'm going to have fun with those.

That's detailing. It still worked with 'you are a walking vision' to the traveler. It'll work better with their word for it because then it's not in a category with the lady with the tea leaves, who might have a reasonably good vision too but hers might be a lot more preventable than a time loop.

Change one thing and it changes everything.

My 500 word scene isn't the same as I'd conceived it, yet it is. The same things happen, the cat's view of the evil spirit's involvement will be a lot more clear than it would've been if I'd written that first.

Time to sleep... then wake and write! It's all writing. It's all good.

Robert and Ari >^..^< (I had a girl come visit me last night! A lady cat! She sang for me but Robert didn't let me out. He thought she was pretty though...)