November 30, 2002
Veni Vidi Scripsi

The update:
As of this moment I have 50,138 words. Thatís 284 double-spaced manuscript pages.

Dazed. Happy. Relieved. Dazed. Looking forward to editing, but also ready for a break.

The very last thing I wrote before declaring the first draft finished (itís not the last sentence of the book, though - that makes even less sense out of context):

Iím drawn back to the sculpture of Romulus and Remus, the two boys. Two boys frozen in a moment, uncertainly safe in the company of a wolf.

I resist the urge to lift it from its base and smash it into another statue, into any one of the witnessing images of gods alien to me.

They are not my boys, these two young empire builders. My boys are gone.

NaNoWriMo (NonNaNoWriMo)

Bottles of whiskey consumed:
1 (.5)

Approximate number of coffee beans eaten like popcorn:
200 (0)

Hours of sleep:
180 (225)

Hours spent cleaning:
2 (6)

Hours of telephone conversation:
3 (9)

Hours of general in-person socializiní:
35 (65)

Hours of CD player use:
110 (40)

Hours of television watched:
15 (25)

Number of movies seen:
2 (8)

Number of articles read (that's as in essays and such, not as in "the", which, as I've mentioned, is a much higher number):
20 (30)

Number of books read:
0 (5)

Number of books written:
1 (0)

November 26, 2002
Caffeine, That's Who!

The update:
As of 12:30 a.m. on 11/26 I have 41,098 words. Less than 600 words behind.

Excellent, but I could live without the hallucinations of giant coffee beans saying, "Who's your daddy?" over and over.


"Loki!" Dvalin called out in greeting, quickly followed by "Donít touch!" as he saw Loki reaching out in curiosity for a pointy metal contraption.

"Why?" said Loki, raising an eyebrow but pulling his hand back. "Is it dangerous?"

"No. I just donít like you. I donít like you, and I donít like you touching my stuff. You touch my stuff, and then you take my stuff, and you never pay for my stuff. So donít touch my stuff."

November 25, 2002
So Happy I Could Spit

The update:
As of 12:30 a.m. on 11/25 I have 39,011 words.

Good good good. Good. I'm less than a thousand words behind schedule. I still don't quite believe it.

The book is well over a hundred pages single spaced (lots o' dialogue will do that), and it's officially so long that I'm having trouble tracking through it. This is an odd, new sensation - I've never written anything so big that I didn't know at least the approximate location of every scene. Now I have to take notes to find things. Wacky.

Some of the words:

"Hey - you and Kvasir should get together!" Yet another bright idea from the Goddess of Love.

"Kvasir? I donít think so."

"Why not?"

"Freya, heís made of spit. You know this. You were there when the Aesir and the Vanir did the spitting. I believe you even contributed yourself. Which bit is yours, his left ankle?

"Donít be silly, all the spit got mixed together. And youíre not being fair, Sigyn. Fine, yes, Kvasir is made of spit. But he has a really nice personality."

"No, Freya - no, he doesnít. He has the personality of a dirt clod. Which is what he is. A dirt clod held together with spit."

"But heís really smart."

"And heís really boring. And he smells funny."

"Oh now youíre just making things up."

"I am not. He smells like a sneeze."

"Thatís crazy, sneezes donít even smell."

"Yes, they do. They smell like spit."

November 22, 2002

The update:
As of 1:30ish on 11/22 I have 30,116 words.

Hooray. Must sleep.

Some of the words:

The man is young - almost a boy. He hasnít yet learned the trick of projecting simultaneously his adoration for this woman and a contempt for society that he believes will impress her. His face fairly twitches with one hasty over-correction after another. He sees me looking at them and shoots a sneer my way, then checks her face for approval, his expression again losing its balance.

November 21, 2002

The update:
As of an undisclosed time on 11/21 I have 28,411 words.

Hey - I'm only 5,000 words behind schedule! I think that's the least behind schedule I've been since Week One. And in less than 24 hours (barring accidents) I'll be crosssing the 30,000 mark.

So this new lease on life is coming (perhaps ignobly but it seems to be working out) from the elevation of a few figures from window dressing to full-blown characters, and fortunately they have a lot to say and are up to all kinds of interesting no good.

Favorite among said characters:
Surtur, the bad-ass fire demon who (theoretically) burns up the entire universe at Ragnarok.

...except when I'm typing "Surtur", I'm thinking "Souter", as in SCJ David.


I hope this isn't affecting characterization.

November 19, 2002
Less Trouble

The update:
As of an undisclosed time on 11/19 I have 24,876 words.

I was really looking forward to crossing that halfway point, but it was too hard to type in the fetal position.

Nevertheless, I'm more optimistic about this whole crazy endeavor - I'm back to thinking I can make it.

Something I wrote:

I get a cat. I come home from work and feed my cat. I sometimes pet it while I sit, reading. Iíve gathered that this is something youíre supposed to do. Iím not entirely clear on why, but it doesnít ask for much, this animal in my house, and Iím trying to fit in, trying to learn a new life. The cat somehow seems to be a part of that.

I know Iím also supposed to name it, but I havenít managed to do that yet. The only name that really seems right is "Loki". It has his eyes. I consider calling it "Fenris", who has the same eyes, but thatís almost as troubling. Ultimately I take to calling it - on those few occasions I feel compelled to call it anything - "cat". It seems to be getting used to that, and I consider the matter closed.

My new life is dull. Numbing. I love it for that. I still think of Loki, but my thoughts are less tormenting now that I can imagine that heís faded into a myth. I imagine him loose, roaming, free from pain. I wonder if heíll find me. I wonder if heíll understand about the cat.

November 18, 2002

The update:
As of 11:59 p.m. on 11/17 I have 22,013 words.

Ack. I'm having trouble with sheer volume - I really am going to have to get better about describing things in more detail. Otherwise certain Big Book techniques will start to creep in.

Thus, a promise:
I will not allow characters to launch into twenty page reminiscences based on the taste of a cookie.

I will not send them into the Russian countryside to hunt for mushrooms all day.

I will not put them in the company of elves who will then go on and on and on about impending doom (even though my Norse mythological theme puts this well within my rights).

I will not introduce a mysterious governess and then slowly reveal her troubled childhood.

No farms! No foreclosing on farms! No traveling to California in a truck because the farm is in foreclosure!

However, I reserve the right to add at the eleventh hour a lovable tow-headed tomboy orphan who hooks up with a recovering alcoholic grifter rodeo clown just so I can send them on a fifty-page cross-country road trip to find the rodeo clownís biological father.

November 15, 2002
Fade to Black

The update:
As of 11:59 p.m. on 11/14 I have 72,565 characters...but only 17,028 words.


Yet another dialogue-heavy passage of the day (if only it were NaPlaWriMo):

I find my mind wanders more than it used to, and Iíve developed the unconscious habit of singing aloud the fragments of songs that continue to spill into my thoughts from nowhere.

"In time the Rockies may crumble
Gibraltar may tumble
Theyíre only made of clay - "

"Whatís a Rocky? Whatís a Gibraltar?"

"I donít know. Pots, I guess."

"Huh. Why would anyone make up a song about pots?"

"No idea."

"Well if youíre going to sing them it would be nice if they made some sense."

"I wonít sing them."

"Fine. Thatís fine with me. Itís not like I can get up and leave if they get on my nerves."

"I know that."

"Iíd just think youíd have some consideration."

"Excuse me?"

"Some consideration. For my predicament. Iíd think youíd have some."

"Our predicament."

"Oh, no. Iím not talking about our predicament. Iím talking about my predicament - being subjected to these incoherent little fragments."

"I said I wonít sing them."

"You always say that. And then a day or two or three later, there they are again, pieces of ridiculous songs about the pot of Gibraltar."

"Maybe itís a statue."


"Gibraltar. We donít know itís a pot. We only know itís made of clay. Maybe itís a statue. Would that help? Would that be less irksome for you, if it were a statue? Letís just say it is, shall we? Letís see if that makes everything better."

"You know, Iím really beginning to hate you."

November 13, 2002
Contractual Obligations

The update:
As of 11:59 p.m. on 11/12 I have 16,011 words. Hundreds of them are "the".

Better. I finally slogged through a pretty depressing section of the book, and now I can have a little fun again. I'm also feeling better about the word count, although at one point I briefly considered searching on apostrophes and expanding my contractions. That's - I mean, that has - got to be good for at least 1,000 words right there. Do not you think so?

Favorite passage of the day that has no contractions and only one instance of the word "the":

Now that I know what to look for, I see them everywhere, clinging desperately to their names. A fully armed Achaean warrior haunts the cleanser aisle in a grocery store; he looks sad and confused, and relieved when someone puts his name in a cart. Only market share can save him from oblivion.

November 12, 2002
"Insouciant"? Er, no...

The update:
As of 11:59 p.m. on 11/11 I have 14,042 words.

So-so. I'm not completely caught up, but I'm not really behind enough to justify despair. And I guess I feel pretty good about the amount I was able to write, considering I ended up going to work on Monday after all.

On Sunday I finally understood that if I'm going to make it, I'll have to stop rewriting on the fly. No more taking the time to think of a synonym if I'm repeating an adjective, dammit. I'll just have to fix the 27 instances of the word "ragged" in December. And if "insouciant" feels wrong, it stays anyway - I'll have plenty of time to think about the relative merits of "casual" versus "nonchalant" later.

Favorite passage of the day:
Too tired. Too many words to pick from.

November 09, 2002
But Wait There's More

The update:
As of 11:59 p.m. on 11/08 I have 6,412 words.

Pleased as punch that I have the whole plot outlined, and a little worried that I'm spending too much time reworking some sections. Those sections end up longer, of course (I'm a sketch-it-out-then-fill-it-in-later sort of person), but it doesn't offer the same word count bang for the buck as entirely new sections. But I won't worry in earnest until after this weekend.

Favorite chunk-of-dialogue-between-two-characters-one-of-whom-is-up-in-a-tree of the day:

When a second leaf skimmed my cheek after only a minute or two, I began to suspect I had company. A third leaf on my nose confirmed my suspicions. I blew the leaf away with a puff of breath.

"This defies the odds," I called into the air.

"Funny you should mention defying the gods," a voice answered from up in the tree.



"I didnít mention defying the gods. I said Ďoddsí - it defies the odds, three leaves from such a large tree falling on me and nowhere else. Or didnít you mean for it to seem like a natural phenomenon?"

"I just liked dropping leaves on you."

"Ah. Carry on, then."

"Itís no fun now that you know I'm up here."

"So you did mean it to seem like a natural phenomenon."

"Or an unnatural one. That would have been preferable, actually. More disruptive. But now itís only me dropping leaves." Another leaf came falling down.

I puffed it away. "Youíre right - itís just not the same."

November 08, 2002
This Could Make Me a Cat Person

The update:
As of 11:59 p.m. on 11/07 I have 5,785 words.

So. Very. Tired. But looking forward to the three-day weekend. I will be antisocial and bash out 20,000 words (fine, don't believe me).

How I lost an hour of writing time tonight:
You may have gathered that my story involves Norse mythology. Every once in a while I need to check the spelling of a name or remind myself just who hewed what from whom, so I do a little Googling. Such is the nature of the Internet that I ended up here, and I couldn't stop laughing.

I mean, I really couldn't stop. I was weeping. Go look, I'm telling you.

Then I was afraid that I would be under the influence of kitties and Led Zeppelin (really, you have to go look), so I had to free up my imagination with a little alternative reading.

Favorite sentence-that-I-added-to-a-section-I-already-wrote of the day:

Like so many of the very, very good, Baldur is fascinated by the alluring mystery of the horrible.

November 07, 2002
Yet Another NaNoWriMo Update

You know the drill:
As of 11:59 p.m. on 11/06 I have 5,330 words.

Pleasantly surprised that I managed to write as much as I did considering what a long day I had at work.

Random statistic that doesn't really require me to think:
Average word length in characters = 4.28 (man, those pronouns and prepositions really drag you down).

Favorite completely-bland-but-oddly-appropriate-sentence-that-leads-to-a-major-fight-scene of the day:

"I want my book."

P.S. Didn't get around to that sex scene yet, but I did outline the whole story as far as the climax (rimshot).

November 06, 2002
Two Oh Oh No

One good thing about the outcome of the election: it has resolved the problem of how we should refer to the first decade of the 21st century. Now we can forgo the awkwardness of ďthe NaughtsĒ or ďthe OhsĒ, and just go with ďthe FiftiesĒ.

Not Tonight, Honey

NaNoWriMo Update:
As of 11:59 p.m. on 11/05 I have 4,689 words.

Mine's okay, but I can't say the same for my characters - the plot took a terrible turn last night. I thought I'd try to make it up to them with a sex scene, but I had a headache.

Maybe tomorrow night.

Favorite chunk-of-dialogue-between-two-characters of the day:

"How full is it?"
"You know it doesnít help to ask."
"What else is there to ask about?"
"Well you could ask me about my day."
"How was your day?"
"I held a cup. How was your day?"
"I was tied to a rock."
"All day?"
"Sounds boring."
"My wife keeps me company. That helps."
"Oh yeah? What does she do?"
"She holds a cup."

November 05, 2002
NaNoWriMo and Kahlo

NaNoWriMo Update:
As of 11:59 p.m. on 11/04 I have 4,265 words ("'Quo Tah'? What is this 'Quo Tah' of which you speak?")

Good (in denial). I have next Monday off work...if I haven't made up the deficit by the end of that day, then I'll panic. In the meantime - hooray, I wrote more.

Today's good excuse for not meeting my quota:
Instead of going straight home to write after work, I went to a reception at the Seattle Art Museum and saw the exhibition on Mexican Modernism.

To write at length about it would be stealin' novel time, so instead I will just mention that while I was there I bought a book of Frida Kahlo temporary tattoos. Next Halloween I will put one in particular on my forehead and go as "Jane with Frida with Diego on Her Mind."

Favorite passage of the day:
Nothing I wrote today was anywhere near as cool as the very idea of Frida Kahlo temporary tattoos.

November 04, 2002
It Be Gin (yarr)

Another NaNoWriMo Update (yeah, there are gonna be a lot of these):
As of 11:59 p.m. on 11/03 I have 3,741 words. This is really behind the Original Unrealistic Daily Quota That Gave Me Five Free Days to Edit (2,000), but only a little behind the More Realistic 50,000 / 30 Daily Quota (1666.6667, aka Quota of the Beast).

Elapsed time between quota revisions:
Two days.

Still good. No problems with writer's block. The story is coming along, and I'm spending all of my time at the computer actually writing and not staring into space. But clearly I am going to have to start spending more time at the computer.

Favorite passage of the day:

Hela is Death incarnate, fierce-looking but beautiful, with skin like alabaster on one side and blue like cyanide poisoning on the other.

"Mom!" she says, as I enter her hall. Itís our little joke - she claims Iím not wicked enough to be her stepmother.

November 01, 2002
It Begins

NaNoWriMo Update #1:
As of 11:59 p.m. today I have 1,229 words. This is below quota (2,000 words a day), but I feel confident I'll make them up tomorrow.

Very good. I have momentum, woo hoo!

Favorite sentence of the day:
"Frey even put together a catapult and launched an entire roast pig at his head - it was such fun!"

Tall Drip

I went to a Starbucks for coffee and pastry this morning because the boy behind the counter at the bakery I usually go to has developed the not unwelcome habit of grazing my hand with his fingers when he returns my change, and I donít want to make the poor thing sick. Itís not that I wanted to make the people working at Starbucks sick - I was just fairly confident theyíd been made to watch a corporate video instructing them to avoid the dangers of hand grazing.

There was a line at Starbucks, and when it moved forward the wench in front of me opted not to step up. She was exuding this "Iíll move when I damn well please" vibe, and since I was in the mood to seethe rather than 1) politely ask her to stop blocking the view of the pastry case so I could figure out what I wanted before it was my turn to order, or 2) knock her skinny little ass out of the way, I just stood there, well, seething. I thought, "What kind of pathetic life do you have that you need to play power games in line at Starbucks?"

When she got up to the counter and ordered a "tall doppio half-decaf extra hot latte, no, wait, dry cappuccino" my pretentiously unpretentious two syllable coffee order and I shared a snotty, "Of course."

And then Miss Dry Cappuccino went behind the counter, and after a split second of confusion when I suspected she was going to show them the right way to make a tall-doppio-half-decaf-extra-hot-latte-no-wait-dry-cappuccino, I realized that she worked there.

And then her petty act of passive aggression against the people in line at Starbucks made perfect sense.

Anybody know where I can get a "Sorry I Developed a Silent Hatred for You While We Stood in Line Together" greeting card?

Oh, shit - I'm supposed to be writing a novel right now.