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Willpower and willingness

I read an article in Science Daily about the difference between willpower and willingness. It claims that if you try to force yourself by focusing on willpower (I WILL!), you may sabotage yourself. If instead you focus on willingness by opening yourself to wonder (Will I?) rather than trying to force behavior through willpower, you will be more likely to succeed.

So -- will I finish my novel by my self-imposed deadline?

By finish, I mean finish polishing. It's technically finished but not polished. I have to polish it up before sending it out. To be fair to the agents who will read it.

Maybe will try for September's Miss Snark's First Victim...

The Siren Call

I hear the siren call of a short sf story I started writing last year. It's been nibbling away at my subconscious for a while now. I must finish it. The novel is still there, in a very zero draft incarnation. It's dogging me, demanding to be revised and finished, but for some reason, I balk. It's the damn short story. No, actually, it's my writer's ADD. I work on a project for a while, then my inspiration fizzles. I turn to the next WIP that catches my fancy and get all gung-ho about it for a while. Sigh. I need to finish one thing. Am I the only one who can't seem to finish anything? Is it some kind of masochism? Failed perfectionism? Self-doubt?

Whatever it is, I wish I could suffocate it and just FINISH SOMETHING!


I think I'm feeling better.

I'll work on the short story again.  See if I can get the spine stiff enough to finish it.
 I'm doing a National Novel Revision Month this time -- have draft novel, needs a serious revision. Parts need to be rewritten, expanded, cut out entirely. The one nice thing is that revision is far easier than creation, at least in my view. I do a lot of revision after writing a section -- I tend to revise each section before moving on to the next when I write so I never have a full first draft. Today, I hope to do about 3500 words or so. If I can keep up that pace, I should get the whole novel revised by the end of the month. One can hope.

In other news, writer's procrastination excuse # 431 -- I can't seem to adapt to the new wordprocessing software on my MacBook. Yes, I made the switch to Apple on my birthday when I bought a MacBook. Thing is, I use a PC at work and use MSWord 2003 at work. At home, I have Pages on my MacBook and I don't know where all the neato editing icons are, etc. It's taking me a while to adapt. It hasn't stopped me from writing, but I feel as if the actual writing is more of an effort than on a PC. I will persevere.

What else is new -- I have been suffering from bouts of indigestion, nausea, and miscellaneous intestinal complaint now for a few months on and off. I take a med for GERD (gastro esophegeal reflux disorder) and seem to have way too much indigestion now. I was also given a diagnosis of fibromyalgia which often has irritable bowel syndrome as an associated disorder, so that may be it. I dunno -- I find it quite debilitating at times. Have to go see doc again and get it checked out. It runs in my family -- both the GERD and Fibromyalgia -- so if that is what ails me, I am just keeping with the family tradition of stomach upset and body aches. Doc has ruled out MS and Lupus so far which is a relief. Hope it's nothing more sinister.

Am waiting for my H1N1 vaccination -- as someone in the high risk group (well controlled asthma now, but I do get very sick from flu and have to double or triple asthma meds when afflicted) I won't take the risk. Both my kids seem to have had H1N1 -- both had fevers, body aches, sore throat and dry coughs -- my daughter in July and my son in September (first week of school) and I seem to have missed it. Don't want to risk it though. I don't like the idea of vaccination -- I am one of those people who tend to get a very sore arm and once, I had oculo-respiratory syndrome (delayed) after the 2002 seasonal influenza vaccination. Haven't had a flu shot since. A pandemic variety that hits adults with asthma harder seems a good reason to get a shot. Can you tell I work in the acute hospital sector???

I am currently working half days this week and next week so I can work on the NANO and so I can get my 17 year old asperger's child into a good rhythm -- home schooled now through a local cyber school as she can't stand being around other students -- very brilliant (98% average in everything) but socially, very very awkward and ill at ease.  Dropped out of high school in grade 11 -- hopes to go back next year to a private school where academics rather than sports is the focus. 

Recent reads -- The Road, by Cormac McCarthy -- whew. Devastating.  Ashes.  Other recent reads -- Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem -- BITEMEBAILEY! Loved it. Woof.

Recent purchases: Ted Bell Tsar, The Terminal Spy by Alan Cowell and Big Boy Rules:America's Mercenaries Fighting In Iraq by Steve Fainarl.  The Russian Mafia, spies and mercenaries all play a central role in my novel set in the near future.

Nothing else of a personal nature to report. I gave up my subscription to Publisher's Weekly and Marketplace in a downsizing move. But I did learn a great deal just from reading it for the past few months and analysing sales, agents, etc. Hope it helps me when the time comes for me to find an agent.


District 9 and Hamster Wheels

Saw it last weekend -- enjoyed it overall. I had a bit of a problem with the aliens at first.  Might be my grand aversion to insects that look even passingly like grasshoppers or cockroaches, and the fact that they were quite humanoid, which always makes me suspicious. But by the end, I was really into the film and was glad I went. It had a great aha! moment, which I won't reveal for those who haven't seen it yet.  I enjoy aha! moments and appreciate it when writers give them to me. 

As to an update from me, I am chugging along. I have writer's ADD - I move from one project to another and despair of ever finishing anything. Oh, I have a finished manuscript, but it is a zero draft and needs much polishing. Plus, I've rethought the opening several times. I feel as if I'm trapped in a hamster wheel, going nowhere fast.

Damn. A novel is such a huge undertaking. It feels endless. How do you finish and sell the dadblamed thing???

Terminating Metal Earworms

Went to see Terminator: Salvation on the weekend with the spousal unit and kiddies (they're both over age 12). Was good, but once again someone steals the film from Christian Bale.


A year ago it was Heath Ledger's Joker who stole the film The Dark Knight from its protagonist, Batman, alias Christian Bale. I found Bale's Batman to be flat and uncompelling in TDK, while Ledger's Joker was an adrenaline rush slap across the face that had me watching and smiling through the film a total of five times before buying the DVD.


Gotta love a great villain. 




In T:S, I found Sam Worthington's Marcus Wright to be the most interesting character. His discovery that he is the fusion of human and machine was the best part of T:S beside the general dark and post-apocalyptic feel to it – right up my alley.


Three themes recur in my SF interests and my own writing: war, human/machine interface, and immortality through technology. I like works that explore (and I like to explore in my writing) how they affect humans and humanity.  So, any character – especially a warrior with machine in him -- interests me. I really want to write a female warrior / cyborg and have a story line in mind, but have too many other projects on the go to do any work on it. In SF, we have a lot of male characters with some kind of enhancements but relatively few females. I like the transgressive nature to it.

I'm thinking of writing an article on gender/sex and technology in SF, with a focus on Morgan's Kovacs trilogy.  I've already talked to Richard Morgan a bit about his vision of gender in the series and how sleeving works and might see if I can interview him more formally for the article.


Will have to see if I can find some time.


Yeah, sure.


I digress. Bale's Connor just didn't do it for me. Sure, he was dark and brooding, but yawn, been there, seen that. Has he become too typecast? I don’t know, but I'm definitely looking forward to seeing Worthington again in other films.


Another Aussie stealing the show from Bale. I bet he’ll have some clause in future contracts to ensure no more Aussies star next to him. If he's smart. 


What is it about those Aussie actors?  Is it something in Australia's air or is it in the genes?  I've always thought the mutt was the healthiest. Australia being a former colony populated by criminals and miscreants might be why they create such great actors.


Onto the "metal" part of the subject line. I enjoyed the post-apocalyptic tone of T:S and the music by Elfman plus the bit of Nine Inch Nails "The Day the World Went Away" and Alice in Chains "Rooster" really captivated me, creating just the right mood for the piece. I spent the weekend after watching T:S browsing music on iTunes, searching for more Alice in Chains and discovered a whole lot that I like, including "Would" and "Nutshell" plus a few others.


I've never been a genre snob. I like what I like. Music is emotional to me. End of story. Listening to it or playing it (I play piano), I don't tend to analyze it beyond what's necessary to play it properly, although I have taken a few music theory courses and read music criticism from time to time. Maybe it's the feminine side of me (note I didn't say "female" as I do believe there are many women who are analytical about music so it is not a "female trait"--it's a gender vs. sex thing). Music is emotion to me. It's physical.  It's about how it makes me feel physically and emotionally.  If it brings about a strong emotional or physical response, or puts me in a certain mind space, I tend to like it whatever the genre. I find reading about music, reading music criticism, is enlightening but not necessary for a rewarding music experience.


The SU (spousal unit) is from a family of musicians, and is a philosopher of music, a musician and a music critic whose dissertation topic was on a critical theory of music. Music is totally an intellectual thing to him. It is also a physical thing (he plays bass and drums) and he gets off on the whole performance part of music. He is the least emotional man I know and if he is anything, he is analytical about everything. Probably because he feels emotions deeply and so, being a typical masculine male, needs to control that emotional response through analysis, or so my pet theory goes….


We are polar opposites in this, as I love feeling emotions of all types.  Which can lead to misunderstandings, as you might imagine. For both of us, music is central to our self-identity so we get along on that level at least.


I did a quick check of my library on iTunes (amazing how central that has become to me) and found that throughout my life, metal of one sort or another has been a central preference. My first album as a young girl was Cream, Disraeli Gears (age 10, I believe – music was a big part of our family life and although Cream was my dad's era, I loved it the first time I heard it played on a reel-to-reel with five-foot tall speakers and so asked for the album for my birthday), part of the early British Rock era, bluesy, with a heavy metal bass and guitar feel to it at times, heavy distortion, demanding drumming. From Cream I moved on to The Who, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Alice Cooper, Iron Butterfly, Kiss, Queen, Rush, Steppenwolf, Uriah Heep, hell, even Rammstein, Iron Maiden, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica.  I'd heard Rooster by Alice in Chains before but never explored their music. 


I owe thanks to T:S for introducing me to another band. Grunge Metal.  Who'da thought? 

So, earworms.  An earworm is that pesky riff or melody you play over and over again, infecting your mind with its incessant demands. 
I've been playing Would by Alice in Chains over and over again all week. Now I've got a nasty earworm that kept me up late and woke me up early, eating into my brain and keeping me from a good night's sleep.  That'll teach me.







Nearest Book


1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 56.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next seven sentences in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

Cambone: No, no -- you said that they were turned over for torture and mistreatment. We have returned, for example, individuals to the U.K. There may be three or four of them that have been returned from Gitmo.

Kennedy: Have you turned over, to your knowledge, any suspects to Saudi Arabia, Jordan. Morocco, or Syria to gether information?

Cambone: From those people in D.O.D. [Department of Defense] custody, not that I'm aware of sir . . . if there are, I will come back to you and tell you. As best I know, there are not any persons under our custory taht have been transfered.

From Chain of Command, by Seymour Hersh.

*does the happy dance*

I'm so happy!

Writer's block seems squashed. Have written 3500+ words in the last few days on my novel. Have revised another 4000 words of the first few chapters. Almost ready to post to OWW for crits.

John Scalzi sums it up better than I could:

My short take on this is that the editor in question said something stupid and bigoted, was surprised to have that stupid and bigoted comment aired to the world, and has since gone out of his way to be obnoxious to the folks who have commented on his stupid and bigoted action and/or have decided that they didn’t want to be associated with such stupidity and bigotry, and he’s being obnoxious mostly out of the principle of the thing. My only real reaction to that is say, well, some people just have to piss up a rope, and this fellow in my experience of him seems to be one of them, and pretty much leave it at that. I feel sorry for the other folks who work on Helix that they’re getting caught in the middle of this, since I know a few of them and in general Helix publishes good stuff (it’s nominated for a Hugo this year in the semiprozine category).

You can read the rest at Whatever.

I don't know much about Sanders, have never heard much about him (I'm that much on the outside of things) and so I don't know if this is de rigeur for him or if he just isn't big enough to fess up that he made a bigoted comment, apologize and move on to live another day.

The sad thing is that this confirms there are editors out there with less than pristine views on things like women, minorities, religious tolerance, etc. Did he let his views affect his edtorial choices? I may pass by and review Helix to see what kind of proportions of women he published just for information purposes.

But at first glance, it's sad that there were a lot of good writers published there and this can't help the rep of the 'zine.

42 Corpses

42 dead creatures on the secondary highway between the main highway and my home. I counted the corpses as I drove back this morning from the local big-box book store, which is my usual haunt on Sunday morning. 36 dead gophers and 6 dead grackles, who bit the dust trying to eat the dead gophers.

It was unnerving and got to me thinking how we advanced humans wipe out so many other mammals just in the course of our everyday actions. This is not even taking into consideration the factory farmed animals we fertilize, gestate, fatten, slaugher, process and then eat.

What if there was a much-advaced alien species that came to Earth -- as far advanced over us as we are over say, cows, and failed to recognize us as advanced intelligent beings and mowed us down in the course of their everyday business?

It's amazing how your perspective changes when you look at it from the perspecive of the future and perhaps even an alien perspective. Would we go to another planet, for example, and upon finding these large fleshy cow-like creatures with bovine level intelligence, pick up our forks and say "LUNCH!"? Or do you think we'd be in awe of finding another intelligent species and do our best not to accidentally kill them by our actions? If so, would we look at cows back home differently?

I'm not a vegetarian, but I tell you, after watching "Our Daily Bread" last week, I've been thinking about becoming one.

That you tube video?  It shows a large machine vacuuming up chickens in a chicken barn to be boxed and sent to the processing plant.  

This one shows them processing cows.  I had a bit of trouble choking down my sirloin burger at dinner tonight. If it wasn't that free range organic beef cost $&^%$ $27 dollars a pound, I'd only eat it instead of factory farmed meat.  In fact, if a vegetarian diet wasn't so difficult, I'd convert.  

I realize this is a strange post.  Apologies, but it was bugging me.