Old Units

I wonder if there is any man-made unit of measure still in use older than the hour. Months, days, and years have physical events to define them, but no aspect of nature told the Assyrians to divide the day into 24 parts (actually 12 pairs of parts).


Looks like I’ve got me a date!

I’m not used to getting hit on. Sometimes, after a conversation that in retrospect seemed flirtatious, I’ve spoken with friends and asked, “So was she…?” only to be smacked upside the head. “Yes, you moron, she was interested in you.” These conversations occur, of course, long after the fact.

So tonight I was in the Little Café Near Home, and I had an interesting conversation with another patron whom I had met once before. We talked about all kinds of stuff. It was when he paid for my drinks and waited for me to saddle up and leave that the alarm bells went off. I reviewed our previous conversation. Plenty of things that could be misinterpreted. For instance, while we were talking I got a message about a possible gathering on Thursday. I mentioned it, and he asked if he could come along. “Sure, sure, the more the merrier,” I said.

“We’ll have to think of a story for me, to explain why I’m there,” he said. Now, sitting here, it’s obvious, although maybe tomorrow it won’t be again. I did not stop to think why he would want a cover story. A friend joining me at a gathering seemed perfectly natural. I didn’t think past that, I thought it would be fun to invent a completely fictitious background for him. It was a creative writing exercise. I ran with it. My story involved prison.

There were other questions he asked, mildly personal ones, that had I caught on I could have answered with equally innocuous but meaningful answers.

So now I’m contemplating what to tell him and how. It’s my own fault; if I had a clue I would have read the signs long before and not allowed this situation to develop. On the plus side there is the fact that I carry around me an aura of remoteness carefully crafted keep people from getting too close. It should work on anyone, I figure, as long as I remember to use it. But I am classically clueless, unable to recognize even the most obvious of come-ons. Mostly I think it’s because I can’t imagine why anyone would hit on me in the first place.

Note to all and everyone. Hints don’t work on me. I can sit in the corner and watch the subtle nuances of a conversation and tell you things the participants themselves don’t know, but make me part of the interaction and whatever observational or analytical skills I have vanish in a haze of self-delusion.

* * *

Time has passed, and now I find myself in the Budvar Bar, the closest drinkery to my house. Hockey is on, Czech Republic hosting Finland, and it’s Thursday, so the waitress has no shirt on. Old men are playing cards for money, and one of them has no nose. Generally I avoid this place on Thursdays, but, well, I know that no one will talk to me here, and right now I don’t want to talk to anyone. I have a lot of work to do. I am conspicuously the one of these things that is not like the others.

I have mentioned in the past that it is a peculiar Czech talent to turn a woman serving beer with no shirt on into an oddly unsexy event. Tonight, however, if you will allow my Y-chromosome to speak for a moment, we have the exception that proves the rule. The difference: her smile. Rare enough among waitresses throughout the land, waitresses without shirts wrap themselves instead in a wall of studied disinterest, boredom, and downright disdain. I can’t blame them. Tonight, however, the waitress has a pretty smile, and that makes all the difference. (“You’re the best”, I just heard from the table next to mine. “Thank you,” she said, blushing a little, proving it. She is much more comfortable with the arrangement than I am.)

It still bothers me when she stands in front of the hockey game, though. I haven’t seen hockey for quite some time. (Now that I think of it, I haven’t seen breasts either, but somehow boobs seem subordinate to hockey in August.) And now a little more time has passed, The Czechs beat the Fins in a shootout, the crowd (and the smoke) is thinning, the Partial People (one with no nose, one with no larynx) are playing cards, and the only topless woman who has ever tweaked my imagination has gone home early. Obviously, I did not have the same affect on her. But…

It was a good night.

An unusually ordinary day

I’m not a shopper. I’m especially not a big-store shopper. It’s not so much that I consciously avoid the giant department stores, I just don’t like lugging the booty home with me when there are neighborhood stores I would walk past on my way. I’ve been in a couple of the big department stores around here, but always as a spectator. Today, it was time. I needed a few things that the local stores don’t seem to carry (emphasis on ‘seem’), and I’ve lived in my apartment long enough that it’s time I went out and got those little things that make a house a home. A year and a half is long enough without a can opener. If I waited any longer people might accuse me of procrastinating.

I hadn’t realized it until I saw a billboard, but one metro stop away from me is one of the giant department stores. It is in the direction away from the city, and in my time here I had never gone past my stop. So on the one hand all I did was hop on the metro to go shopping at a giant store. On the other hand I went to a new place to shop at a store I’d never been to before.

It was entirely like every other giant department store on the planet, with just a couple of exceptions. The goods were arranged with czech sensibilites, matching the way smaller stores categorize themselves. For instance, every shopping district in Prague has a store that sells electric things. If you want something that runs off electricity, for whatever purpose, you go to the electric thing store. Perfectly sensible. I found my beard trimmer between the digital cameras and the microwave ovens. Because it’s electric. Once I walked through the store once, I had no trouble finding anything I needed.

I now have knives that cut, a nice stainless-steel frying pan, a can opener, and a hair trimmer (not one of those pathetic pieces of junk they sell as beard trimmers). Five more years and I’ll be moved in!


Listen up kids. Life is not a toy. Life is not something you throw against a wall to see what happens. Life is not something you leave out in the rain. Life is a puppy. It’s crazy and spastic and will pee on you sometimes and poop in your shoes, but you have to take care of the puppy.

Seriously. Take care of the puppy. I’ve had enough bad news this week.

Illustrators wanted!

We here at Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked ideas are going to turn up the audience participation a notch. Why? Because we care. Yep, for any of you with an artistic bent, now’s your chance to emerge from the comments and get your stuff on the front page.

Elephants of Doom is turning out to be a pretty big story (2000 words in and no ivory-billed woodpecker yet), but I have written a couple of bits that might be fun to draw. If you’re interested, drop me a line in the comments and I’ll send you the part of EoD that I have written.

I thought of turning this into a contest, but hey, if more than one person supplies a picture, I’ll just include them all — with, of course, full credit to the artist and a link to your page if you would like. My goal is to release Elephants of Doom to celebrate visitor 50,021, which will happen a few days from now. Sorry about the short notice. If you send an illustration later, I can still add it, and make sure that everyone sees it.

In fact, now that I think about it, feel free to illustrate any of the stories I scratch out here. Some of them are certainly more illustration-worthy than others, but any of them would be improved by a nice picture. (It’s hard to imagine why you would, but if you choose to illustrate Quest for the Important Thing to Defeat the Evil Guy, Episode 1, please be careful.)

Thunder in Krumlov

Out on the water, making our way downstream, our raft stood out. Cap’n Soup Boy standing tall, waving the battered Jolly Roger, wearing his pirate gear, while Izzy and I acted in a generally piratic way… it worked. Those on shore called out and took pictures. There was no doubt that the ladies were particularly impressed (I kept a low profile). Izzy was making plans. When we got to Krumlov, he was going to tear that place up. Rock and roll all night, etc.

We pulled up at our final stop (“Let’s keep going!” Little John called), dried off, and boarded the van to Krumlov. It dropped us off right in front of our hostel. (Total cost per person for the rafts and the lift into town: $12. Just try to beat that.)

The van brought our baggage with us, and most of that was of the personal kind. While we on the Zen Boat had had a most enjoyable pull, there was dissent on the other boat. Nothing major, but there were some larger-than-average personalities crowded onto the raft, and friction occurred. I was surprised, then, when later there was friction between Zen Boat members, and that I was one of them. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We were delivered safe and sound at our hostel, and the seven of us checked in. We were put in an eight-bed room, with the last bed already occupied by a chinese guy traveling alone. He was nowhere to be seen, but already I felt sorry for him. It was pushing nine o’clock when we invaded the place, and I groaned when Soup Boy declared that he was going to take a shower before we went out. I was hungry after paddling his ass around all day. Soup Boy showered. Izzy declared his intention to shower as well. I said I wasn’t going to wait while everyone showered, and if that’s what was going to happen, I’d just go on ahead. Rosa also objected.

Izzy got pissed off. Not at me, though, at Rosa. If he’d gotten pissed off at me, I could have apologized and explained that it was my stomach talking and I would continue to be a pushy jerk until I was fed. His anger was directed at Rosa, however, because for much of the day her advice sounded like criticism, and even though Izzy was not the target for most of it, it still bugged him. (In retrospect, I realize I could have stepped in an apologized and intercepted the anger. That’s hindsight for you.)

Advice and criticism. The distinction is not simple, and it’s more complex when you consider friendly criticism. Rosa, however, could improve her delivery. Like me, she was among strangers, and I think she wanted to present her most competent and assertive self. With two exceptions on this trip, I just paddled. Exception one was getting our collective ass out the door for food before everything closed. Izzy knew of a place with a dish called Bohemian Feast, which translates into English as “Big plate of food for not so much money”. Were it not for this special knowledge he held, I might have taken off on my own.

The castle tower in Český Krumlov

The castle tower in Český Krumlov, taken from the riverside table where we ate out feast.

I’m glad I didn’t. The bohemian feast is awesome. We sat at a table by the river, and the food was plentiful and bohemian. Izzy made the right call, and not for the last time. We ate, we drank spiced mead, and fun was had by all. We toasted Soup Boy and I officially thanked him for putting the trip together. We ate more.

Finally it was time to go. Izzy and Little John, both determined previously to get laid seventeen times each, declared they were tired and going back to the hostel. I was up for a bit of nocturnal walking around, and when Soup Boy signed up, the rest of the party expressed interest as well. Where we ate was on the riverside, with the castle soaring above us on the opposite bank. We headed that way.

We strolled through the castle grounds. I was mostly with Rosa, and we chatted about nothing important. Jane was dedicated to talking with Soup, which left Beau on his own. That made me a bit uneasy, since he was Jane’s boyfriend and all. Beau, I think, has a traditional streak like mine. It was peaceful at night, and during one moment of solitude I saw flashes away behind the hills. Lightning, still too distant for me to make out the thunder. I noticed later that the flashes were getting closer. Eventually we moseyed down into town, and looked around for a place to have one final birthday toast. Although it was the weekend during tourist season, most places were closing up by then, with the exception of clubs that looked loud and uncomfortable.

Shadows on the castle wall, Český Krumlov

Shadows on the castle wall

Eventually we found a spot that wasn’t quite closed yet, and I voted for the patio. Others thought maybe we should get home before the rain started, but for me the right choice was to be under a big umbrella outdoors when the deluge happened. I carried the argument for a while, and when Beau complained of getting wet I managed to get us to move to another table with better umbrellage, rather than go inside.

The rain came down. Torrents of big, fat drops splattered into the street, quickly soaking anyone caught out in it. Lightning flashed, thunder rumbled, I sipped my beer and wondered how it could get any better. When the waiter came to suggest we go inside for shelter, Beau and Jane jumped at the chance, however, and so we went into the closing restaurant and sat next to a table full of smokers. Even so, the conversation was pleasant, and I had a good time. The storm passed, we paid our bill, and headed back to the hostel, with only one wrong turn.

When we got there the light was on, Little John and Izzy were sacked out, and Chinese Guy was asleep on the bunk underneath mine. I tried not to jiggle the bed too much as I climbed up. Soon I was asleep.

But not for long. I awoke a short time later to the sound of Chinese Guy snoring gently, and the feeling of my shoulder stiffening up. Hours of steady paddling was going to take its toll on muscles more accustomed to typing. I rolled over to put my arm in a more comfortable position. The bed shook. The snoring stopped.

That set the theme for the rest of the night. Short sleep, snoring and stiff muscles, roll over. I didn’t sleep that much, but I was pleasantly surprised to awaken in the morning, (after Izzy’s alarm went off at 4:30 and Chinese Guy got up early and quietly left) with my muscles in relatively good shape. After a bit of that very pleasant lazy-morning snoozing I climbed out of bed, planning to write while others slept. Izzy and Little John both got up as well, however, and without a single word being spoken we headed out to find breakfast. Not one damn word. That, friends, is how decisions should be made. I enjoyed everyone’s company on the trip, but I was glad to get out into the morning air before other people got up and the inevitable decision paralysis set in.

The streets were deserted that early in the morning. We headed back toward the middle of town, where the most touristy places were, and eventually Izzy landed us at another great place to eat. It was a hostel with a full kitchen that served true English breakfasts, and had unlimited self-serve tea and coffee. On top of that, it was cheap. Breakfast was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip, hanging with a couple of guys, not having to talk but finding things to discuss, some of them even meaningful.

Eventually it was time to go back and join the others and catch the bus back to Prague. As smoothly and calmly as the morning had been to that point, going from a cluster size of three to one of seven increases complexity by several orders of magnitude. Eventually I went out to the hostel’s garden to wait for the others to unknot. Izzy was already there, and Rosa was not far behind me. Beau, it seems, is not a fast starter in the mornings.

Finally we were moving (after Beau ran back to get his phone), but we didn’t get far before some people wanted to stop for breakfast. It was cutting the time a bit close, but I figured that the absolute worst thing that could happen was that we’d be stuck in a truly pleasant little town for another day. From my point of view, that wasn’t so bad, so once again I forced myself to relax and not worry so much about missing the bus.


The bus ride home (artist’s rendition).
Photo stolen from here

We did not miss the bus, thanks largely to Izzy and Little John. I’m not sure if it wouldn’t have been better, however, if perhaps we had. When we got on, there were no seats left, so we stood in the aisle. A few more people got on, and the driver called out for everyone standing to squish together more so we could squeeze more people on. Some of our group ended up standing the entire way back to Prague. When people needed to get off the bus, it was a major chore for them to make their way to an exit.

At least there were no chickens. There was a fat guy who wheezed on my head for a few kilometers, and I wondered if there would be more rainstorms in Český Krumlov that night, and why I had wedged onto the bus just because everyone else did. The bus the next day would have been much less crowded. Still, I got to sit much of the way, which is more than some of the others had.

Home at last, tired, happy to be away from the crush of people, I truncated my goodbyes as much as possible without being too impolite and headed for home.

Happy Birthday, Soup Boy, and thanks for putting together a fantastic weekend.


To sleep, perchance to dream

I got the text message on my phone this morning. It was from Soup Boy. “You remember Gretel?”

“Of course,” I typed back. I had met Gretel a few times here and there. We had been extras together once, but the first time I saw her she was asleep on my sofa. I imagined, now that Soup Boy has broken up with his girlfriend, that forthcoming would be an interesting story about the two of them.

It wasn’t long before the next message came in, short and to the point, the way phone text messages are. “She’s dead. She committed suicide yesterday.”

“Wholly crap,” I responded, and that’s it. A few hours later, it’s still about all I can come up with. That and questions. There’s a threshold, the line between life and death, and you can only cross it once. What was it about yesterday that made it her last? She was far from home; what was she hoping to find when she came to Prague? And, of course, the big one, the one only she could ever answer, and probably even then I wouldn’t understand: Why?

Now she’s gone. I have odd regrets. I wish I’d known when her heart beat for the last time, so I could put down whatever meaningless task I was performing and mark her passage. I wish I could have known before that and somehow brought her the happiness she ultimately despaired of ever finding. I wish I’d taken the time and had the courage to get to know her better. I wish she wasn’t dead.

We all have our private and public faces — some of us even have different personalities for different occasions. Gretel, the few times I talked to her, seemed chipper and upbeat, clever and conversational. Of course, that is what she wanted me to see of her. I’ve had some experience with people who are skilled at hiding their troubled thoughts. I was married to one. How many others do I know, among my happy and well-adjusted friends, who, when they are alone, face demons no one else knows about? How many sit in the darkness and wonder if it might be better not to be?

Do I even want to know the answer to that?

Floating down the Vltava

I got the message on my phone last week, saying something like “We are go for rafting. Meet at Hlavni Nadraži at 6 a.m. Bring rain gear. Pray for sun!” I prayed extra-hard, as I don’t own rain gear.

Soup Boy, my ex-flatmate, was having a birthday party, and he decided to do it in style. That’s the way Soup Boy is. He decided that a serene float down the river with his friends would be a jolly fine way to celebrate his annual quantum aging event. He called the rafting company, went over train schedules, sent out invitations, and managed the whole brouhaha. We would start our journey near the Austrian border and float gently north on the Vltava, stopping along the way for refreshment, paddling through beautiful scenery, and generally having a good time. At the end of the day, if we had not reached Chesky Krumlov, we would get a lift from the rafting company into the beautiful-if-touristy little town, where we would bunk overnight in a hostel.

And that’s how it worked out, sort of.

During the week I got messages from Little John. “Do you have a pirate flag?” was one of the first. Before long the party, under Little John’s influence, became a pirate outing. I had no problem with that, especially when I got the latest cut of Pirates of the White Sand the day before. Arrr!

The day approached and the forecast was changing by the minute, and all we could do was wait for the butterfly in China to flap its wings or not. I got to bed reasonably early, but I had difficulty sleeping. Not nerves, I don’t think, just one of those nights. I was already up and about when my alarm went off at 5, and under the fizzing glare of my noisy lightbulbs I packed a change of clothes and the Jolly Roger. A peek out the window was reassuring; the sky was clear.

As is my way, I got to the meeting point a bit early. I’m pretty laid back about most things, but when I’m traveling I’m not comfortable until I’m installed in my seat and ready to roll. After a short wait I saw Soup Boy and Little John, and their buddy Izzy. (Izzy because not only is that a damn fine pirate name, but because that’s the name of his dog.) While we waited in line for train tickets we were joined by Rosa. That made five out of seven, with time counting away. Soup Boy’s phone chimed and he read the message. “Jane and her boyfriend aren’t going to make it. They overslept. They’ll join is tonight in Checky Krumlov.” I had never met Jane, but I was disappointed. The more the merrier, I figured.

Tickets in hand, Soup Boy said, “OK, we have about fifteen minutes before the train leaves.” As I mentioned before, I like to have butt in seat well before the train pulls out. Generally, I bust my ass to get where I need to be, then sit waiting and wish I’d stopped to grab a sandwich on the way. Fifteen minutes. No problem. The group stood in a ring for a couple of minutes, then some people declared that they were going to grab sandwiches. Just relax, I reminded myself. You’re just along for the ride.

We missed the train. Soup Boy had been a little vague on just when the train left, and we got to the platform in time to watch it pull away. This is why I like to have a margin of error. Now I had no train and no sandwich.

The next train left in an hour, but we were going to have a long wait in Cheske Budejovice. Nothing wrong with that, the center is very pleasant. It just meant that we would be getting out onto the river late. On the plus side, Jane and her beau had time to join us. Overall, a net positive.

An hour later we were on the train, heading south. It is time to review the cast of characters.

Seven Deadly Pirates

Seven Deadly Pirates

  • Me. Mild-mannered writer, watcher of people, drinker of beer. Not so good with strangers. Quiet, except for the times I chew people’s ears off.
  • Soup Boy. Creative and competitive, he doesn’t do anything half-assed. On the surface very unlike me, but we are compatible. We both find the Universe to be slightly absurd.
  • Little John. Offer him any two pieces of information, and he will discover an interesting parallel between them. His answer will likely be given in song, either a snippet of a tune that was popular within the last 100 years or his own adaptation of one of the above. LIttle John is a talker. His enthusiasm is infectious, and a little bit scary.
  • Izzy. A relative youngster, and a good guy to be on a boat with. He speaks his mind, but is not a butthead about it. Izzy likes girls. A lot.
  • Rosa. Born and raised north of the arctic circle, Rosa has stories. She tends toward the talkative end of the spectrum, but not obnoxiously so. When she speaks her mind, it sounds more like criticism. Not sure what the defining factor is there.
  • Jane. The only Czech in the group. She is a very touchy-feely person, and also a talker. When not teaching english to Soup Boy, she is a psychologist and a tutor of gifted students. She is a very sweet, sincere person, but knows every trick in the book for making me feel uncomfortable. The contact, the probing questions, and the honest confessions when I have only known her a few hours are difficult for me to handle. Still, for that, she’s very smart and fun to be around.
  • Beau. No matter where he lives, he will carry Boston with him. Of all the people in the group, I did not form a strong personal opinion of Beau. From Jane I learned that he is a good cook and that he came into her life at a really tough time and he’s been great. Beau, I think, does not like the unexpected.

I am tempted right now to go back and rename all the characters after Gilligan’s Island. The only question: who’s Ginger?

Where to start…

Yes, you read that right. I have a new laptop. It is substantially faster than my old one, the screen is in much better condition, and the keys glow gently in the low light of the Little Café Near Home. Also the battery doesn’t last nearly as long and it set me back three month’s rent.

The mini is now in the shop for repairs. Hooray! Before you know it I’ll be up and running again, doubly mac’d and ready to rumble. I have quite a backlog of things to ramble about, as well as a bit of fiction to share with you. Who knows what might happen tonight!

Thanks, all of you, for your support and for sticking with the Muddleverse during my down time. Let us all send up a prayer to the gods of technology that I get as many miles out of this Powerbook as I did from the last.

Over the next few days I’ll keep this message at the top of the blog, but there will be lots of scrumptious episodes appearing below. Tune in often!


Up and running?

I was so convinced that the part for my Powerbook was not going to fix the problem that I had written the machine off. The inverter arrived from Atlanta, however, and right now the old road warrior is working, at least in the naked, upside-down configuration.

It has worked for short spells in the past week though, so we won’t really know if things are fixed for a while yet. Cross your fingers!

Then I just have to figure out who to talk to over at Apple concerning their definition of “global”.

The timing was amazing…

I got a new computer yesterday, hand-delivered from the steamy jungles of the Land of Enchantment. After rounding up the needed other parts yesterday (going to take a little getting used to the shift key not being where I expect it), I got things up and running without difficulty. I took a break for some tea, and said to myself, “self, I sure hope the laptop has some more good years in it, now that you’ve bought a desktop machine.” I took my steaming mug of caffeine back to my work table and opened up the laptop.

Obviously the gods of computing (very difficult to tell from the demons of computing) were listening, because at that very moment the screen did a little flickery dance and the computer froze up.

Moments, mere seconds before I started to copy files over to the new machine.

I already knew what the problem was, but this time things were going much more badly. My guess is that the sparks and general bad things that happened before have caused other damage to the video controller. I managed to get things working, more or less, by removing the back of the road warrior and tipping it up on its side while it ran. After poking at the video card and wedging a matchstick in at a critical point, I was able to keep it running well enough that I could access it over the network and begin moving files.

Did I start with my writing, or my software projects? No, of course not. The match stick was working, things were under control. Instead I moved a bunch of junk I wanted to burn to DVD and get out of the way. The hard drive was getting very full, and affecting performance.

Things have become dramatically worse. This morning the Road Warrior can’t run for more than a few seconds before the video problems freeze it up. It can’t even finish rebooting. Finally I disconnected the video controller completely and booted it. I can’t see the screen, but I can access files over the network.

I don’t think any amount of duct tape is going to solve this problem. My blogging software is still over there (I really want the mobile machine to be my blogging platform), so I’m adding this entry the old-fashioned way. None of the usual bottom-of-the-entry links are going to work right, except the comments, which I hard-coded.

Now what I want to do more than anything else is go somewhere and write, but I can’t.

Edited to add: I have the blog software running on the mini now, so the automatic stuff should be restored. I have tried to keep the hard link to the comments here:

Discuss Things that Suck

There is a chance that uploading this will blow away the entire blog if I didn’t move the data over correctly. That would really suck.

Programming Note: JersNW featured on a Podcast

I got a very nice message today from Allison, who runs a podcast over at PodFeet. Tomorrow Jer’s Novel Writer will be mentioned on her show. She wrote me to say that she loved the Read Me file so much she wanted to post links to help people find my novels.

(Note to all the literary agents lurking on the blog — and I know you’re out there. Three words: Pent-up demand.)

Gah! No novels to which she can link. I did send back links to a couple of my favorites in the Piker Archives, and talked a little bit about my Read Me philosophy. It’s a good read me. It has style, passion, and useful information. It is a writer’s read me, and it is perhaps Jer’s Novel Writer’s primary asset. It says a lot of stuff, but what you hear is that “this is going to be fun!”

Really, JersNW will not make writing fun for you if it wasn’t fun already. And if you’re not having fun writing, then there is no reason to continue. You can sweat blood and curse and invent new ways to torture yourself when it’s not coming out right, but at the end of the day, when the words happen and you sit back and smile and wonder how some dork like you could make something so cool, when the crazy string of symbols you built actually means something, and it’s interesting, you gotta smile.

The words returned tonight, once I gave them the chance. Tonight’s effort was more problem-solving than rambling, but when you add a short scene that ties some of the loose bits together and establishes a core moment in the evolution of your character, then it’s time for an internal high-five. You have to celebrate that stuff, ’cause it’s all you have. Luckily, it’s all you want. You’re a writer.

This love, it feels so easy to me, that I assume it is the natural human condition. I have to wonder what we do to people to make writing a chore. Somewhere around the point we teach our kids that they can’t draw we also turn writing into a universe of artists, technicians, and other, swiftly relegate most folks (artists among them) into ‘other’, and spend the rest of their education trying to turn them into technicians. I’ve got nothing against technique (in fact, I’m probably tighter-assed than most) but I will forgive any technical transgression in the name of style. Personal style. “This is me” on the page. There is no grammatical rule that takes precedence over that.

You write to write. You publish so you can let go (doesn’t always work). You make a word processor because there’s an idea burning in your head. You publish the word processor to make money. Still trying to figure out that last bit.

Code week

This week I managed to con some of the suckers convince some of my faithful beta testers to try out a sneak peek version of Jer’s Novel Writer. It worked out very well, as far as moving the software forward is concerned. They found bugs, tested new features, and generally kept feeding me useful information as fast as I could deal with it. As a result, the software is quite a bit better than it was before, and the new features really are useful.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t given me much time for writing, and when I do fire up the novel, I find myself looking at the word processor, not the words. Even using other programs (like this one), my head has been in a really technical place. I’ll be sending the new release out to the unsuspecting masses tomorrow, and after that I’ll be taking a code break. Hopefully that will give me something to write about here.


Well, at long last I’ve been paid for my rousing Soap-Selling adventure. I got the message from my agent yesterday that they had my money, and bickety-bam I was down at the office to pick up my sweet lucre. Even after a chunk of it was withheld to keep the Czech government running in top form [Insert image of Indiana Jones here… Jones: “What form?” Official: “Top. Form.”] There was still a tidy little sum for two day’s “work”. Athena wrote me a check.

A check! I’d not seen one in this country, except the one I had to mail back to the US to deposit. They just don’t do checks here. Then Athena explained to me that I have to go to the right branch of the right bank, and take along plenty of identification, and expect to wait a while. That will be my adventure for today. It’s a good day for it, seeing as rent’s due.

I haven’t done any extra-ing since then, unfortunately. This must be what people in the biz call a “dry spell”. With my acting career in the dumper, I don’t have a safety net anymore. Better get writing.