Jers Novel Writer 0.5.2.1 released

It’s just a bug fix release, and only a couple of bugs at that, but one of them was bad enough to warrant an interim release. 0.5.2.2 will be coming out in a couple of weeks, with fixes to bugs that are merely annoying as well as one other nasty one.

On a side note, someone posted this over at the Hut:

I would like to thank Jer for all the work that has been put into this program. I used 0.3.1.3 during NaNoWriMo 04, and intend to use the newest version for this year’s as well. The improvements in the last 10 months have been astounding, and I love JNW. Although it doesn’t make pearls of wisdom flow from my fingertips, it makes the flow of nonsense that is my usual writing easier, and makes the beating of said drivel into shape much less of a chore.

I do believe that no finer program exists for mac, and although I am a little shady in programs for windows, I have not encountered a description of a program I would even think of choosing over this one. In short, I love this program, and just wanted to voice my thoughts on the matter.

You can be sure that I will purchase the eventual commercial version as soon as is is available- it only seems right as I have been using this for almost a year now, and it has helped me so much.

Man, that made my day.

I wrote a story once

It was an odd tale; it started as sleep-deprived ravings but grew on me. It was an odd world, an agrarian culture, but without horses. Giraffes were the beast of burden.

There was a man in the village who no one liked. He had a bad temper, and sprayed saliva when he talked. No one mentioned that to him. He was out working his fields one day when his giraffe had a heart attack. That must be common among the swift ones; the heart has to maintain enormous pressure to keep the head nourished, perched way up there.

The man’s giraffe died and he sat there, out in his field, next to his dead animal, for three days. Then he packed what he could carry and left the village forever. The story was not about him.

In this world of odd mammals and random blinding rainstorms, metaphors had a disquieting concreteness. Promises were trees, and lies were death. I was big on the truth back then. Wombats would pursue their victims relentlessly across the grassland, but neither hunter nor hunted would voluntarily enter the forest. I think they were wombats. They sound more dangerous than platypuses. The plainsmen raised them to be particularly nasty.

I’m thinking of that story now, wistfully hoping to recapture its unfettered randomness and heavy symbolism. Fifteen years later, I seem to recall some good prose as well. Tonight I have been sitting, groping for some of that silliness, my prose prosaic. There are only so many hours you can spend editing your own work before you turn into a pile of dependent clauses and dangling participles, with nary an idea in sight.

It’s time for action! It’s time to recapture that old-school mild schizophrenia. All nighter! Yeah! Rock on!

Body Czech, Part II

I’m at the bowling alley, in my observer’s seat high above the blacklit lanes. It’s busy right now, but one foursome has caught my eye. They are two couples—a short blonde who has without a doubt earned the title hottie is with one of those tall, dark types, while her best friend the willowy brunette is with a reasonably tall, slightly pear-shaped guy.

Blondie knows how to bowl. She works with the ball the whole way down the lane. It is pleasant to watch and I suspect she knows that. When she gets back to the table, either celebrating success or mourning failure, she is welcomed by her boyfriend and much smooching and ass-grabbing ensues. That’s not unusual in these parts, and I thought little of it until I observed, high in my crow’s nest, the behavior of the other pair.

When willowy brunette comes back from the line, she will gently touch her man’s shoulders as she slips by. When he comes back from his adventure with ball and pin, he’ll put his hand on hers where it rests on the table. They are simple acts, unconscious, not meant to prove anything, secure in the simple joy of togetherness. So if you ask me which of the two are in love, the groping, smooching, rubbing-against-each-other couple, or the couple that is simply together because there’s no other way to be, you know what I’ll answer.

Cheap Beer Place

After writing that last bit I stayed in Cheap Beer Place perhaps a bit longer than I should have. I was nursing the beers and nursing the batteries, giving me plenty of staying power, but the ol’ laptop had been in my backpack quite a while when the three guys asked if they could share my table. Things were getting crowded in my section of the bar, after I had spent the afternoon as king and sole patron. Time had passed, shifts had changed, and my favorite waitress had given way to some new guy, who was obviously a rookie.

The three guys were all right. They were younger, Slovak, and there for the dancers. I’ve never been able to figure it out. Cheap Beer Place has, on seemingly random nights, girls who dance without very much on. They do this as the rest of the bar continues its normal vibe, ignoring them completely. They’re just part of the background. I think, if I was hired to be sexy (no worries there), it would suck to be completely ignored. But that’s how it goes, there.

The lads I was with actually approached the evening with much more gusto than the average customer. When the first dancer started they all moved their chairs around for a better view. They made little effort to include me in their conversation, but that was all right with me. Striped-shirt-guy even went over and talked to the dancer for a while, joking and chatting and getting nowhere with her. The dancer did her job, however; I decided to stay for one more beer. As my refreshment arrived so did three more guys, older men, also Slovak.

The mood at the table instantly soured. Striped-shirt-guy in particular was not happy to see the newcomers. One of the new three sidled up next to him and put his arm around the young guy. They left for a while. One of the other youngsters explained to me that we were the only two heterosexuals at the table. The elder batch gave off a predatory air. It gave me the creeps.

I don’t get hit on in bars. It’s just a simple fact. Well, while I was trying to flag down rookie waiter to pay and get the hell out of there (Prosim! Prosim! Zaplatim! dammit!) and the mood at the table was swirling down the crapper, I was hit on. Hard. With no subtlety whatsoever. He wasn’t vulgar (that I could tell), but he was persistent. I tried to absorb myself watching the dancers to, you know, give a hint. I’m not sure why I thought a hint would work, since “I like girls” and “NO, NEVER, EVER” (with gestures) hadn’t seemed to get the point across.

Finally rookie came by with my bill (prices have gone up at Cheap Beer Place). I stopped on the way out and told the dancer I thought she was very pretty – not a lie at all. She smiled and thanked me, also sincerely, as she slipped out of her top. What a crazy place.

Prague – the Homecoming

Soup Boy blew his knee (again), and is mobilistically impaired. He dropped me a line, saying he would be at Cheap Beer Place for the afternoon. What better place for me to reintegrate myself in my two-months-forgotten lifestyle? I walked in and as I was crossing to the table my favorite waitress asked (in czech, of course) “Beer, yes?” It was as if I had never left. I was kind of hoping for “Hey! Great to see you! Where’ve you been?” I was also dreading the greeting, since what smattering of czech I had has completely fled. “I’ve been in America, making a movie,” I was hoping to say in a suave, offhand, no-big-deal kind of way. Making a movie. Nothing to get excited about, but you’re welcome to gush and think I’m a big shot if you want. Unfortunately, even at the best of times I didn’t know past tense in Czech.

I would have settled for “nice haircut.”

But I’m here, and the words are coming. Soup Boy is an animator, a creative individual at that, and he’s stuck in a spot with a bunch of characters, a great setting, and a lot of potential, but no story.

Favorite waitress just passed, and I had my finger way in my ear. It was itchy. I looked stupid.

ANYway, Soup Boy is an animator, he wants to do little short bits with his characters. I looked at what he has and it’s Writer’s LEGO. Lots of good stuff to work with, the pieces fit in an infinite number of ways, and there’s no right answer. Heck, when God’s one of the characters, you have a lot of room for fun.

Now I am alone; Marcela has carted Soup Boy off to his job, leaving me here to Get Back to Work.

Post-Amy Stress Disorder

I slipped out of San Diego without saying goodbye – just a short phone conversation during her lunch break. I don’t like goodbyes all that much – better just to slip out the side door and move on. I didn’t even wait for Rory to drive me to the airport. I was done with Ocean Beach, my home for the past week, and ready to move on. I was tired.

Physically tired, certainly, and mentally weary as well. It’s been a grinding couple of months, and my stamina has been sapped. Crashing on the sofa of a whirlwind who is trying to figure out if she has a boyfriend or not, who loves wine a little too much, and finds sleep optional is not how you regain your energy. Luckily this time around Amy was starting a new job – a square job with square hours. That meant we only stayed up way too late three-qarters of the time, and I had mornings to recover while she had to go to work. “Have fun,” I’d croak as she passed the sofa on the way out the door. Then I’d roll over and try to sleep some more. That only worked once.

Ocean Beach is a small neighborhood, and is geographically isolated from the rest of the city. That means it has managed to hang on to some of its small-town charm, and it means that if you don’t have a car lying around your options are limited. It wasn’t long until I well knew all the places of interest. There was the brand-new amazingly cheap cafĂ© with free Internet, run by a really weird guy. There were other, swankier places with Internet, but not for free. Once I had locked Amy’s door behind me I spent my days in those places, trying to string words together, but, in my frazzled state, editing was the activity of the day.

Then it was off to the O. B. Grille, which became my office in the late afternoons when I had no place left to go. This is where Amy knew to find me when she got off work, finished her evening activities and negotiations with Cute Boy, and was ready to play. There was no question of sneaking in any writing later, The only thing that ended the evening was sleep.

Now, in the calm after the storm, I miss that wildness, the unpredictability that is Amy. She is a tiny little Las Vegas, a loud and constant invitation to excess, all bundled up and ready to travel. You know when she is there. As the night begins, there is anticipation. Amy is grinning ear to ear, only a little bit crazy yet, and the night extends before us, a journey into the unknown. Somewhere along the way someone says “one more,” and you know it’s not just one more, and someone has to be the designated walker or you’re not getting home.

Like Las Vegas, that sort of lifestyle can only be sustained for a few days before the brain goes into rebellion, shuts down, and leaves you for another head. When you part with Amy, the rest of the world seems muffled; your ears are still ringing after a sternum-thumpingly loud concert. Cowering behind their defenses, your synapses are still tender, still skittish. When a stimulus punches through the scar tissue it rasps across your raw psyche like a cheese grater. You jump, the look of a trapped animal in your eyes, and blurt out “One more!” You are suffering from PASD, Post-Amy Stress Disorder. It’s in the medical books. Look it up.

As I was driving through the desert my thoughts began to slide into their old grooves; a story was born, teased, and buried (one little bit stashed away for future use). There were too many cars for a Saturday. I sighed, relieved, disappointed, adrift, vaguely missing something, already looking forward to the next time I enter Amy’s world.

Bud Light is Horrible

I got some decent work done tonight, hanging at my new Ocean Beach headquarters, getting my baseball fix. I moved one short story to the next level, thanks in large part to Jojo’s criticism. (There is nothing more valuable to a writer than a good critic. I am blessed with several. Friends who back you no matter what are one thing, friends who tell you when you’re full of it are another, and are infinitely better friends.) It was not a word count day at all, I was weighing each word carefully, climbing inside its implications, weighing the symbolism, and generally having a good ol’ time.

Amy called. “I left the door open for you,” she said.

“So, then, you’re going out tonight.” She is still trying to make things work with her ex. Last night it was “Screw him! I don’t need that shit!” Things have changed in the last 24, it seems.

“Uh, yeah. But help yourself to anything in the fridge.”

I am home now. The beer in the fridge is not beer. It’s Bud Light. I popped a bottle open, thinking to myself, “I’ve had worse,” but swallowing was difficult, and I can think of no reason to put more of that into my mouth. It is bad. Really, really bad. It redefines awful. In the short term, it is worse than getting your teeth knocked out by an angry Russian hockey player who hasn’t bathed since 1984. Long term, it’s a tossup. [Exercising the journalistic restraint for which I am justifiably well-renowned, I have deleted the reference to the vomit of a rabid pit bull who ate a skunk road kill that had been baking under the Texas sun while buzzards pooped on it.] Bud Lite is bad, bad, bad.

If Bud Lite had no taste at all, that would be an improvement. But for all that it doesn’t have very much taste, what little it does have is retchingly nasty. I am staring at the new stylish bottle, and I know I am looking at one of the world’s most popular beers, and I am flabbergasted. People drink this crap on purpose! I’ve heard them, in bars, requesting the stuff when other beers are available.

That’s not to say that any other pisswater lite beer is any better; I just haven’t had the pleasure lately. But people, please! When you drink this stuff, the terrorists have won.