Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Turn it down, hipster"

No writing tonight, and no writing update, but I leave you with this. The Death Wish trailer re-cut for our modern times. For those who are faint of heart, it contains swearing.

My favorite line: "No, it's a right-now coat!"

Writing update: Nov 29 edition

Just numbers tonight. I didn't start writing until 11:00, which means it's now late and I am tired. Though I feel like I'm having to force myself to stop. I'm in the middle of an exciting (to me) scene, and it's hard to not just keep going. I can feel the novel winding down. This scene, another big character scene, and then some mop up. I'm guess by this weekend I'll be done with this draft. Crazy. I really didn't know if I had it in me. And maybe I still don't. I guess it could all implode before I finish.

Anyway, here are the numbers:

Daily word count: 1405 (novel)
Monthly word count: 34,647 (26,630 novel, 5,790 story, 2,227 new project)
Novel word count: 98,131

Sunday, November 28, 2010

R.I.P. Leslie Neilsen

Also, weekend numbers.

Just this morning I was talking to to my wife about Police Squad and some of the hilarious devices they used in each episode to satirize detective shows at the time. This evening I was saddened to learn that Leslie Neielsen, the star of Police Squad and Airplane! and, of course, Forbidden Planet. Nielsen was one of those lucky actors who got to have a second act to his career. (I know that F. Scott Fitzgerald was mostly wrong when he said that there are no second acts in American lives, but, as far as actors are concerned, he was mostly right.) A handsome dramatic actor as a young man, Nielsen was given the opportunity to reinvent himself when he starred in Airplane! There was no looking back.

I remember seeing Airplane! in the theater, which seems impossible now since I was only ten years old at the time, but that might say something about how I was raised. Regardless, I know I didn't understand everything I was watching, but I knew it was transformative. That movie was the benchmark against which I measured all comedies for a very long time.

I'm going to look on amazon.com now to see about buying Police Squad on DVD. If you haven't seen it before, I suggest you do the same.

And here are the numbers:

Daily word count: 3,266 (1,049 novel, 701 story, 1,516 new project)
Monthly word count: 33,242 (25,225 novel, 5,790 story, 2,227 new project)
Novel word count: 96,726

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday's numbers

Sorry that I'm posting so little besides my daily numbers and the occasional video. I feel like all my free time is spent doing other writing and it's sometimes hard to muster up a decent post here. And I'm not sure when it'll let up. New and interesting things keep cropping up and I can't seem to say no to them. It's not a bad problem to have.

I'm thinking of setting myself a goal of one or two large, juicy posts a week. The rest would just be the filler that you've come to expect, of course. We'll see if I can manage that once I'm done with the draft of this damned novel.

Which brings me to today's numbers:

I started making notes on a new project and I'm going to throw those numbers into the mix, mostly because it's writing I'm doing and I think those numbers should count toward my goal for the month. So there. Also, I made no progress on the short story today.

Daily word count: 1,897 (1,186 novel, 711 new project)
Monthly word count: 28404 (22,608 novel, 5,089 story, 711 new project)
Novel word count: 94,109

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's like a Thanksgiving present to myself

My wife and I decided to stay home today rather than travel to see family for Thanksgiving. That meant it was going to fall to me to make a Turkey and all the trimmings. That's just how things go in the Kreutz Gallardo household. I'm fine with it. I like to cook, and I'm good at it, so I really don't mind. But I had made myself a little crazy over the last few days because I'd never made a turkey before. I think I devoted more time to researching roasting techniques than I have on any piece of homework so far this semester. (If my advisor is reading this, that's hyberbole!) I'd also never made stuffing or from-scratch giblet gravy. Even more time spent researching.

But you can all rest easy, everything (except the stuffing) came out fine. Great, in fact! Not to toot my own own horn, but I think that turkey ranked up there with the top five turkeys I've ever eaten. And, because it was just the three of us -- and one of us is a two-year-old -- we have tons of leftovers. Yes. And it may have gone well, and not been as difficult as I imagined it would be, but I was still confined to the kitchen all day. And the last hour was a mad dash to make sure everything came out at roughly the same time. The point I'm trying to make here is that I felt the need to indulge myself. I'd suggested renting a movie, but my wife didn't feel up to it.

So I wrote. I made a public statement on this forum two days ago that I would be taking Wednesday and Thursday off from writing. That, I can now tell you, was a lie. I am apparently in a place where writing is something I do when I want to treat myself. Who knew I'd ever get there? I feel like mI'm a long ways from the days when staring at the blank screen would just about reduce me to tears. And I may very well get back there again, but I'm enjoying it while I'm able.

I just wrote 1,000+ words on the short story I'm writing. I'd been experiencing some frustration with this story. I had a beginning I liked, and I was pretty sure I knew where I wanted it to end up. It was that pesky middle part that I couldn't figure out. Well, t seems to be coming together now. Hopefully I'll wrap it up the first draft over the weekend.

And now I'll give myself another Thanksgiving present and send myself to bed.

That photo, by the way, was taken by my wife and is of my son regarding the thing that kept his dad from playing with him all day long.

Here are today's numbers:

Daily word count: 1,073 (all on the short story)
Monthly word count: 26,508 (21,419 novel, 5,089 story)
Novel word count: 92,923 (unchanged)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just the numbers

I'm going to be taking off tomorrow and Thursday from writing. I'm far enough ahead that I just want to enjoy Thanksgiving. And, of course, I need tomorrow to actually prepare for the enjoyment of Thanksgiving (I'll be preparing my first Turkey, etc). It'll be nice, and I'll be back at it starting Friday.

I stopped writing last night at the end of a chapter. I then realized that when I started writing today, I'd be starting on what I believe will be the last chapter of the novel. I know that I wrote a while ago that it felt like the ending was receding away from me, but lately I feel like I need to slow myself down -- that I need to not rush the ending. The whole process that's gone into writing this thing has made me feel crazy at times, I tell you what. Anyway, I'll write more about that later. You know, after I actually finish writing the damned thing.

For now, here are today's numbers:

Daily word count: 1,284 (all on the novel)
Monthly word count: 25,438 (21,419 novel, 4,016 story)
Novel word count: 92,923

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mostly numbers, but also a video

I took the weekend off from writing and read a book for homework. I got back to it tonight and I realized how being away from it for even two days makes me feel sketchy. Aw, well, it was unavoidable.

As to the video: It's been more than a year-and-a-half since I last wrote about Jenny Owen Youngs. I still listen to her music quite a bit. And today on FaceBook, I saw that it's her birthday today. (More than likely, it was her birthday yesterday to you since I'm posting this just before midnight.) I posted songs of hers on Twitter and FaceBook to celebrate, but I thought I'd post a video here. This is Ms Youngs's cover of the Nelly song, "Hot in Here." It's a hoot and a half and I think it still manages to showcase her amazing voice. I hope you like it. Oh, I should probably warn you that it contains some adult language. You've been warned.

And now, here are the numbers:

Daily word count: 1,914 (1,412 novel, 502 story)
Monthly word count: 24,154 (20,138 novel, 4,016 story)
Novel word count: 91,639

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Suburbs + 90k

Like me, do you like the band Arcade Fire? Do you like music videos directed by Spike Jonze? Do you like beautiful, but bleak visions of the lives of aimless teenagers who live in endless, surreal, militarized suburbs? If you said yes to all three then you have scored a trifecta of likes with this, the latest video from the aforementioned band directed by that guy I already named. It really is a lovely video, but it is also bleak, bleak, bleak. Enjoy!

Apparently this is taken from a short film that Jonze directed titled "Scenes From the Suburbs." I just did a quick search online, but I couldn't find any information about when or where one might be able to see the short film. I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

And now here are today's numbers:

Daily word count: 1,386 (all for the novel. Sorry, short story, no words for you today.)
Monthly word count: 22,240 (18,726, novel, 3,514, story)
Novel word count: 90,227 (Holy cow, I feel like I buried the lede here.)

Since I'm ahead on my weekly goal, I'm going to take the weekend off from writing and devote that time to catching up on some of my reading. That means no updates over the weekend. I'm sure you'll all muddle through somehow.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Melissa is off watching the adventures of some boy wizard (maybe you've heard of him?), and I get to stay home and finish up my writing for the day. I think it's a fair trade.

It occurs to me, having started doing these almost-daily updates, that my writing schedule must seem fairly erratic. That's actually a choice as much as it is a necessity. I've spent the last years of my life intentionally de-ritualizing my writing process. I feel like I've spent, possibly wasted, a lot of time in the past waiting for inspiration to strike. And I did lots of things to try and court inspiration -- I always sat in the same place, I always wrote at the same time. Hell, there was a time when I had to have a candle and some incense burning. Lately, I have purposefully gotten away from all of that. Like I said, part of that is necessity. I'm a stay-at-home dad, I have to be able to sit down whenever and where ever the opportunity presents itself.

Some days it's harder than others to get into the writing, but there hasn't been a day I can recall in this semester that I haven't been able to write at all. And I've skipped days certainly, but that's mostly because I sometimes need sleep more than I need to write. Another hazard of being a writer raising a child.

The twitter post from Roger Ebert that illustrates this post really says it all. I wish I could go back in time and tell this to my younger self. Not that my younger self would believe it. My younger self was sort of a jerk. A bigger jerk, I should say.

I guess I can be happy that I've finally learned the lesson. Better late than never, I'm getting the writing done.

And here are today's numbers.

Daily word count: 1,734 (1,001 novel, 733 short)
Monthly word count: 20,854 (17,340 novel, 3,514 short)
Novel word count: 88,841

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I'm up late writing this evening because earlier, Melissa and I were irresponsible awesome parents and we drove Oscar an hour South to Eugene so we could all go watch Allison Weiss play live. Allison Weiss is a big deal in our house and Oscar often demands that we play her music. (Actually, given his two-year-old soft palate, he demands that we play "Al Wise.") Ms Weiss, who hails from Brooklyn, is touring the West coast with her friends Bess Rogers and Lelia Broussard, both of whom are very talented in their own rights.

We were also lucky because our friend, Eugene musician, Dan Jones, was able to join us for dinner and the show.

As we walked into the venue, Oscar started marching around, asking very loudly where Al Wise was. I had seen them on the sidewalk outside unloading their equipment. He wanted to go and see them. Who are we as parents to deny out son (read: I wanted to meet her, too)? Here's a tip to anyone who wants to introduce themselves to three lovely young ladies: have a cute-as-hell two-year-old with you. They thought he was very cute, indeed.
Especially when he was able to tell Ms Weiss the title of his favorite song. It's "Let Me Go" for the record.

The cuteness continued to build to dangerous levels once the show got under way. Oscar stood right in front of the stage, danced and sang along with her set. And then we got pictures and her signature on two of her CDs. Besides being crazy talented, she's also nice and gracious. I think it was well worth the travel and the fact that we kept Oscar up past his bed time. We'll remember it for a long time to come.

Unfortunately, we couldn't stay to see either Bess Rogers or Lelia Broussard perform. O had reached the end of his tether and we needed to leave before a screaming tantrum wiped away all those cute memories. All in all, an excellent night.

And now, here are the numbers.

Daily word count: 1,622 (1,082 novel, 540, story)
Monthly word count: 19,120 (16,339, 2,781 story)
Novel word count: 87,840

Human Behavior

No new writing today, but I'm ahead on my word count so that's okay. Instead, I finally finished rewriting that short story I've been working on for the last several weeks. Man, it was tough to crack. It doesn't help that I am the world's worst rewriter. Tomorrow I will send it off to my advisor and see if he agrees with that assessment.

In the meantime, a video from the past. I sometimes watch music videos with my son--he's a fan of Vampire Weekend and Allison Weiss, but he'll tolerate nearly everything I show him. I like sharing music I like with him. The other day I showed him the video for Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet." It's directed by Spike Jonez and it's bright and colorful and a lot of fun. Later, after he'd gone to bed, I thought that I should have shown him the video for her song, "Human Behavior." It's also directed by Spike Jonez. I looked it up and watched it. I did not remember it being so nightmare-inducing. Seriously. Everything about it is terrifying. It looks and feels like a kid's movie directed by David Lynch. I am eternally grateful that I didn't show it to my son. The damage to his psyche would have been massive.

Having said all of that, enjoy!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Jess Nevins: Hero to the Nation!

Okay, maybe I'm overstating it a bit, but I like his stuff a lot.

Nevins first came to my attention as the man who obsessively annotated Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's comics series, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. The comic is crammed with more visual references and in-jokes than the casual reader could be expected to know. Nevins took it upon himself to identify them all. This is a feat I find both amazing and scary.

Nevins is, by profession, a research librarian and his affection for data is apparent in everything he does. In 2005 he wrote the exhaustive 1,200-page Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana wherein Nevins maps out the roots of modern Fantasy and science fiction. I still kick myself for not buying the book when I had a chance as it can now only be found used at usurious prices.

His latest project is a series of columns for the science fiction website, i09.com. He plans to trace the history of science fiction publishing starting at the turn of the last century with the rise of the pulps. For anyone interested in fantasy or science fiction, it makes for fascinating reading.

Nevins maintains a personal blog, a tumblr blog and his twitter feed (where, for example, he once expounded on trends in Mexican pulp magazines) is one of the things that makes me feel that service is worthwhile.

And now for today's numbers.

I thought I'd be taking the day off from my novel, but that wasn't to be. I seem to be unable to stop writing the freaking thing. It's a bit scary. To me, anyway. That being said, here are the numbers.

Daily word count: 1,165 (all on the novel -- no words for you, short story!)
Monthly word count: 17,498
Novel word count: 86,758

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Numbers, November 13 edition.

For these keeping score at home, here are the numbers.

Daily word count: 1,750 (1,031 novel, 719 story)
Monthly word count: 16,333
Novel word count: 85,593

Getting it done getting it done getting it done.

On even stranger tides...

Found today on BoingBoing is this interview with SF authors Tim Powers, James Blaylock and K. W. Jeter. These three wrote the earliest recognized Steampunk novels (Jeter coined the term),and all three were friends at Cal State Fulerton. Where they all met and befriended Philip K. Dick. Um, wow. In the interview, they talk about PKD and what led them to write those early Steampunk works, and what they think of the genre's current incarnation.

Leading the article, however, is the news that Powers sold one of his novels, On Stranger Tides, to Disney and that it serves as the basis for the newest Pirates of the Caribbean movie which I believe is titled, Pirates of the Caribbean: I Saw the First One and Sort of Liked It, But Didn't See Any of the Others. Awkward title. Having read and loved the source novel, I'm a bit horrified to see it Disney-fied, but I'm glad to see Powers earning a paycheck for his wonderful work. (Like Whitman, I contradict myself.) The best case scenario here is that people will seek out the original novel and be exposed to one of the best writers of SF out there.

And here are today's numbers.

Daily word count: 1,708 (1,323 novel, 385 story)
Monthly word count: 14,583 (13,061, 1,522 story)
Novel word count: 84,562

Friday, November 12, 2010

I couldn't help myself

During the few breaks I had today at my part-time job, I started pecking away at a new short story. I hadn't planned to do this. Hell, I didn't even particularly like that I was doing it. I still have the novel to write and I have homework I should be doing for the MFA. But there it was, a story. Plot, characters, dialog--it all just sort of fell into my brain whether I wanted it or not. I've learned in these situations that I need to actually start writing it down or else it'll just disappear. And if I say I'm going to write down a few notes so I can come back to it later, well, that never works. So I have the opening to a new short story and I guess I'll be writing it over the next little while.

I'm updating the writing numbers I posted earlier today. I'm not sure if I should count the words I write for the short in my stated goal of 30,000 for the month since I wanted those all to go toward my novel. Not that anyone reading this cares, but I've already admitted that I'm doing this for myself. If anyone happens to have an opinion, however, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

For now, here are the numbers.

Daily word count: 2,262 (1,125 novel, 1,137 story)
Monthly word count: 12,875 (11,738 novel, 1137 story)
Novel word count: 83,239 (unchanged from earlier)

And I have to warn you, we've only scratched the surface on how obsessive I can be.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This Is How Michael Caine Speaks

This video is helping me to get through a day when I 1)am sick and 2)can't seem to get warm. I'm not sure what The Trip is, but I think I need to find out.

Also, we have early numbers from my daily writing/torture session.

Daily word count: 1,125
Monthly word count: 11,738
Novel word count: 83,239

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Writing watch, day 9

This image, which I like a lot and will try and incorporate into my working ethos, was found here.

And now, here is the usual blather about my writing:

I decided I needed another day to work on the rewrites for my short story. These rewrites are kicking my ass, quite frankly. My goal as a writer is to get to the point where every story is golden in the first draft. That's possible, right? Anywho, I told myself that if I was going to take a day to rework a story, then I had to double up on the my word goal for the novel. That makes sense, right?

I did it, believe it or not. It felt good. I wonder if I could do it every day. I suspect I could, but I think it would require abandoning my family and all worldly concerns such as eating and bathing. I doubt that it would be worth it.

Here are the numbers.

Daily word count: 2,065
Monthly word count: 10,613
Novel word count: 82,114

Monday, November 8, 2010

Is my printing fetish unseemly?

I think the only things for which I feel truly nostalgic all orbit around printing. I just discovered that someone is making a feature-length documentary about Linotype machines. My heart nearly burst while watching this trailer. I'll be watching for when this film is completed and gets a distributor.


I reached the 80,000-word mark on my novel this evening. That's 350 type-written manuscript pages. This is the furthest I've ever gotten on a novel attempt. And, honestly, I don't think this one will be an attempt. I'm going the distance on this one.
A couple of weeks ago, I was telling Melissa that no matter how much I wrote, the ending felt like it was running away from me. I think the actual words I said were, "The ending is receding so fast, I can see itsred shift." Because I know science. But I don't feel that way anymore. Within 20,000 words or so, I'm going to reach the point where all that's left to write is THE END.

And then the real work of rewriting will start. But still...

Here,as they say on Market Place, are the numbers.

Daily word count: 1,263
Monthly word count: 8,548
Novel word count: 80,049 (This is a new category for those playing at home.)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wrung out

I have nothing very clever to say this evening. Unlike every other evening. I worked a long day and then walked home in a rain that could only be described as "biblical." I'm posting here only so I can update my word count. Here goes:

Daily word count: 1,625
Monthly word count: 7,285

That means I have earned the right to take tomorrow off from new writing and I can rewrite a short story for my next homework packet.

Thank you and good night.


I work a part-time job Thursday through Saturday. It's those days when I knew reaching my daily writing goal would the most difficult. On Thursday and Friday, I watch my son all day long and only hand him off to my wife as I am on my way to work. After that I work until late and then come home to write. Sometimes I get some work done if he naps really well in the afternoon, but that's far from a given. And I also use my breaks at work to peck away at my writing, but, again, it's rare that I am able to get my daily goal that way.

Today I didn't get home until just before midnight. Beat from a full day with my son and a nearly full work day at the job. I really wondered how I'd have it in me to finish what I need to. Then my wife showed me something my son had wanted me to have. It's a business card-sized piece of paper. My son dictated a note to me for my wife to transcribe. He then ordered her to place it under my pillow for me to find.

In case you can't read the writing in the photo, it says:

This is a
surprise for
Good morning!
Good night.
I love my

After seeing that, I felt like I could stay up as long as I needed to to make this happen.

And here's the daily word count:

Words for the day: 1,127
Words for the month: 5,660

If I am able to reach 7,000 words tomorrow (a not-unreasonable goal) then I'll be taking Sunday off from new writing to work on the revisions for a short story.

Friday, November 5, 2010

More inspiration coming soon

I read today on his blog that Warren Ellis is working on, as he calls it, "a short booklet about writing comics." This is exciting news. When Ellis writes about comics, I pay attention. I may not love every comic he does, but they are all worth looking at and dissecting. He seems to be one of the few people working in the field who really thinks about the medium. I think most people, myself included, operate from a sort of gut-level, but Ellis is a formalist. That's my take on it anyway.

The last book of his about comics that I read was 2001's Come In Alone which collected the columns he wrote for Comic Book Resources. I've read it several times and have been thinking recently that it's time to read it again. A new book on the subject from the same author makes me happy. Maybe I'll finally be able to figure out how these comics things work. Though that is asking a lot.

And, before I forget, here are today's numbers.

Words for the day: 1,249
Words for the month: 4,533

Also, I should note that I love writing scary, prophetic dream sequences. That is all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More porn for print nerds

Also, the day's numbers

One of the cooler products I've discovered in a while is Field Notes Brand notebooks. For the last year or so I never go anywhere without one -- they've supplant Moleskine notebooks as a common book for me. I collect all sorts of random things in them, from phone numbers to passwords to comics pages layouts. They are well-designed and sturdily-made. I have always been attracted to items like this. Throw in that they are made in the USA, and I feel like they are doing me a favor every time I send the company money.

In addition to the chip-board covers of the everyday notebooks, they also do limited runs of different colors and designs once a quarter. The last limited edition color they did was a black cover with debossed type. It's a really snazzy number.

The video below sows how the notebooks were made and it features the pressmen who operate the machinery with which they were made. It's beautifully shot and the care and devotion of the craftsmen involved really comes through. Watching stuff like this makes me wish I'd stayed in printing.

Also, here are my writing numbers for today:

Words for the day: 1,206
Words for the month: 3,284

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Writing update: Nov 2 edition

I had a hard time concentrating on my writing this evening. Every five minutes I was checking the election results and diving deeper and deeper into a funk. So it impeded my writing a bit. But now the results are mostly in. One last kick in the stomach would be if Oregon handed the governorship over to a guy who's only qualifications seem to be he was once able to throw a ball through a hoop. I should stop this now.

Here are the numbers.

Words for the day: 1,066
Words for the month: 2,078

That first number resonates. 1066 was the year of the Norman invasion of England, and the battle of Hastings (which is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry). 2078, of course, is the year that the robot army will rise and finally crush its human oppressors. But the robots will vote a straight Democratic ticket, so that'll be okay.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Statement of intention

October felt like a lost month somehow. I rewrote a couple of stories and did manage to write some new material on my novel, but I was nowhere near as productive as I should have been (nowhere near as productive as I'd been in August and September). So, I figured I'd use this space to publicly state my goal for the month.

I plan to write a thousand words a day this month. Every day. That's 30,000 words for the month. There. Plan on a lot of little entries on the blog this month updating my progress. I think I'll have time for little else. I still have reading to do for my MFA, and reading responses. And we just got our list of seminars for the next residency in January and those all have reading to be done for them as well. November and December will be very busy months for me.

So, to start the month off right, here's my daily update.

Words for the day: 1,012
Words for the month: 1,012

Wish me luck.