Monthly Archives: June 2012

Check My Brain

The kids, having gone to bed very late what with last night’s party, slept in this morning until almost 8:30, which is relatively late for them. After a late-morning soccer game for my youngest son, we finished most of the post-party cleanup and then retreated to the pool for a couple of hours.

Actually, that’s a lie. Just before going to the pool I walked into the bedroom to grab something and fell onto the bed thinking I was just going to lie down for a second and stretch my back out a bit. I got out of bed almost an hour and a half later. I had a rough time falling asleep last night after going to bed. I don’t know if it was the excitement or the coffee, but I was wrecked when I woke up. I thought for a while that I was going to fall asleep at my son’s soccer game but I’m glad I didn’t because he scored the sweetest of goals. He gets very few and was awfully proud of himself.

Tonight, I thought I was still with it but I think it’s time to turn in. I’ve been sipping at a cup of tea for half an hour now, wondering why my fruity herbal tea was so much more bitter than usual, and them remembered that I’d made a cup of black tea.

In further evidence of my non-functioning brain, I read through the current draft of a short story looking for things to edit and found not a single thing to change. I know the mistakes are there because I highlighted them on the printout of the story – the printout I completely forgot to use while editing tonight. If it takes my half an hour to realize I’m drinking the completely wrong kind of tea and another half hour to realize I’m not even really reading what I’m reading, it’s time to tune out.

I’m hoping it’s just exhaustion, because if my brain has checked out into vacation mode already it’s going to be a VERY long week before my vacation actually starts.

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Friday! (part deux)

Shortest post ever. Going to bed at 3am after massive house party with way too much food, but it was great. Hope to be more coherent tomorrow evening.


Friday!

Even though it’s not really Friday, it feels like my Friday because I’m off tomorrow for an extra-long weekend. Monday’s Canada Day so I get four days off in all. Then I head back to work for four days and I’m off on vacation for two weeks. What’s better is that work isn’t even all that crazy.

Usually before I leave for vacation there’s this mad rush to get things wrapped up at work before disappearing, but this time things are actually less hectic than normal. When things are that busy, by the time vacation hits there’s a day or two of just not working that needs to be done before you can actually start to unwind into your vacation, and then there’s the days of dread at the end before going back. If things hold course, it will be nice to just go on vacation and hopefully head back to work not with a sense of horror but simply feeling refreshed and relaxed.

Tomorrow my wife is having a huge belated birthday party here with a live band and all, so there’s tons of preparations to do beforehand. I’m getting some writing done now because I’m almost certain that I won’t get any time for it tomorrow. There will be last minute shopping to do, and cleaning, and food preparation, but it should be a huge pile of fun.


Old Blue Leg

I mentioned last week that I thought I had pulled both my quads while playing tennis. Both legs were sore the rest of the night and for the next couple of days, but the pain in my right leg went away after three days or so. The left leg isn’t doing so well. It’s less stiff than it was that first day, but it’s more sore and today, almost a full week after hurting it, it’s starting to bruise. The whole quad is coloring up to a nice blue from the knee up. I don’t know what the continued discomfort and the delayed bruising are indicative of, but let’s say that it’s felt better.

Also, my son’s been coughing for the last day or so, and today he started complaining about a sore throat, just as my own throat was starting to bother me when swallowing. If this keeps up and I start hurting in the right places I’ll be sore from top to bottom!

In the injury and illness department, this hasn’t been a very good year. Things could always be worse, but they’re not usually this consistently bad. I just have to hope that whatever ails me now goes away soon enough. In ten days we leave for vacation and I’d rather not leave with a gimpy leg and a throat infection or whatever this happens to be. Tonight, less writing, more painkillers and sleep.


The Long Short Story

I’ve been working lately on the short story I finished over a month ago and set aside for a cooling period. It’s been frustrating me because I have piles of notes and the nights where I work on it, the story doesn’t get any longer. I feel it’s getting better, bit by bit, but there’s always more rework to do and it’s been weighing me down. I’ll get a solid one or two thousand word edit done, but the word count doesn’t budge. Or it shrinks. It can be demoralizing.

Tonight I stopped, sat back and looked at it, and I remembered that this “short story” is over ten thousand words long. It has a pile of characters, a pile of concepts, and a pile of thematic undertones. I’m starting to realize that this story is feeling less like a long short story and more like one-sixth of a novel, which puts things into perspective.

Every time I rewrite a scene to excise what wasn’t working and put in things that I think do work, I have to go over the entire thing and see where this new scene is contradicting the story in other places, or where things which were set up previously are either modified or no longer relevant. It’s a hefty editing process and I hadn’t realized it because I’d been approaching it as just another short piece, which it clearly isn’t.

I’m realizing that this particular piece is simply going to require more time and effort than simply double that of a story half the length. Much like a 60,000 word novel probably requires more than ten times the effort of a 6,000 word story. The bigger you go, the more complex it gets, the more things you have to consistently juggle.

This is fine, it just requires more patience than I’m used to showing a work. The instinct is often to kick the story until it rolls over and concedes defeat, but this one is going to need a softer touch.

Bit by bit, word by word. Patience and time.


Dead Man’s Hill

My wife had a soccer game tonight, and since it’s summer and nobody has to be up especially early tomorrow, I went with both kids to watch her play.

The field she was playing at was very close to where I lived for ten years before moving in with my wife. I spent almost all of my teens there and I know the area well, including a large forested area with several trails going through it. I told my children about this, and about a hill at the edge of the forest which we called, “Dead Man’s Hill”. It was a drop off, steep and bumpy, from the upper forest to the fields far below, and many who tried to bike down it ended up taking to the air. I was never brave enough to try.

Obviously, my kids spent a good long time begging me to take them into the woods so they could see this mythical slope for themselves, and since that particular trail/hill leads out close to where the soccer fields are, it was no big deal to indulge them.

We walked to where the trail started and looked up the length of the hill. Not as big as I remember it, I thought. “Awesome!” Said my kids in unison.

We climbed up the hill. It’s steep enough that you have to lean way forward when climbing. I was puffing a bit at the summit, but it wasn’t too terrible.

Looking down from the top, my kids pointed and shouted. “Nobody could ever make it down that hill,” said my oldest. “Nobody!”

I looked down and thought, “This damned thing is half the size I remember. I could totally bike down this ant hill.”

Such a let-down. This beast of a hill from my adolescence was nowhere near as impressive as I remembered it. Definitely it was less impressive than I’d let myself think it was. That hill was totally better in my memory that it was in the real world, and now I’m wondering if my kids were impressed because I’d told them it was impressive, or if they really were impressed by the size of it.

Maybe it’s past time for me to look around and re-evaluate the things I consider impressive and intimidating.


St. Jean Baptiste

Today was a holiday here in Quebec. St. Jean Baptiste, often referred to simply as La Fête nationale though old habits die hard, the traditional Christian name sticks even for this non-religious writer. There are the usual festivities of barbecues, kids activities, outdoor concerts and fireworks, but today we ended up avoiding most of the party.

I needed to finish mowing the lawn, and I had to bring the kids to another soccer game. By the time everything was done, we went to our local pool which was doing a big barbecue, but the water was a touch chilly. The kids swan for a good while, but the temperature sapped their strength and as we finished eating it started to rain, so instead of sticking around we made for home and popped in a movie. The kids were out cold by around nine so we put them to bed and stayed in rather that drag them out to go see fireworks. Clearly it didn’t rain enough to stop those, because I heard them from my house just after 10pm. Next weekend is Canada day, so maybe we’ll have better weather and make it out to more of the local entertainment.

I think I’m going to wrap up the night by sitting down with a good book and a cup of herbal tea. The kids are out of school for the summer, and because the holiday fell on a weekend I get tomorrow off work so I can read late and not have to worry about having to wake up early.