A few days after you left, there was a bad storm. It happened in the middle of the night the way all the really bad storms do. I watched it through the double-wide windows that functioned as the head of my bed at the time.
You had been there to see me the weekend before and I was thinking about you. The visit had started out pretty well and you’d had a look in your eyes that said you intended good things. Very good things.
Of course it didn’t work that way.
I don’t know if there’s a way to explain: the lights were out, the room was dim, and when you walked into the bedroom you just looked so much like her. I was so surprised that I said exactly what I was thinking before I realized how it would sound, and that set the tone for the rest of your visit.
So a few days later I lay in bed watching the water run down the window and let lightning burn afterimages on my retina. The pillow you’d slept on didn’t smell like your perfume. The sheets didn’t smell like your skin. There was no romantically symbolic indication that you’d ever been in my house. I suppose that was fitting.
The next morning the neighborhood was littered with leaves and branch bits. I watched people sweep the walks or rake their lawns as I got ready for work.
I hadn’t called you.
I wasn’t going to.
I had admitted to myself that I didn’t know what to say. I think that was the first time I’d felt comfortable in three years.
While I was home for Christmas, I drove around the old home town to see who I could run into.
Unlike all my previous visits, most everyone was there, either down at Turtle Creek Saloon or the Hi-Lite. I wasn’t sure what my reception was going to be like, but it turned out well: a lot of people had been reading my website and were really in to what I was doing. South Dakota doesn’t have much, really, in the way of celebrity — after Tom Dascle and Mt. Rushmore, they’re pretty much out of ammunition, so that night, among my old High School buddies, I basked in a rockstar-like glory. People drove me around town, and told me about parties that were going on in the next few days and that I should definately come.
When I got back to my folk’s house, I confided to my mom that it was already the best visit home that I’d ever had, and I hadn’t even gone hunting yet.
Of course, I’d forgotten to get a license, so I had to take care of that the next day.
I drove back into town in my pickup to buy a pheasant license and backed into a space in front of the pizzeria/movie rental shop/Sears outlet that also sold the permits I needed. (Yeah, in South Dakota, you can’t really specialize.)
When I came back outside, my pickup was partially blocked in by this other car. I tried pulling out but I kept tapping bumpers, no matter how much I hauled the wheel over to the left, so finally I just put it back in park and waited.
That was when I noticed the cops on the other side of the street. There were at least five, all out in front of the Clothes Garden (retail chains don’t really like South Dakota, btw). They were all heavily armed and peering in the windows of the store. I couldn’t really see what was going on, so I pulled my gun out of it’s case in the passenger seat and used the scope like a telescope to watch the action. It probably wasn’t a good idea to point a gun at a cluster of cops this way, but no one was looking my way.
All but two of the cops crept inside and started weaving through the circular racks of clothes, pistols out and crouched. I watched, and realized that I could see where the guy they were after was hiding. The problem was, I didn’t have any way of warning them, so I kept watching.
The cops in the store were clueless. They walked right by the guy about 5 times, until he finally got cocky and made his move, slipping past the deputies in the store and out a side entrance that led back to the front sidewalk.
He came out right behind the sheriff, who was a nice guy I’d known a long time. I only had one choice, so I squeezed the trigger and dropped the guy. The cops didn’t know what was going on, and by the time they’d gotten a clue, I’d pulled out of my space across the street and was driving calmly in the opposite direction. The only thought I had about the whole thing was that I’d have a really good story to tell at the party I’d been invited to that night, and that my sights were adjusted a little high and to the left.
It was a pretty wild dream.
There’s a new technology coming to mobile phones — the GPS. Once $100,000 per unit, it’s now the size of a quarter and costs about 100 bucks a pop… the next generation of mobile phones in the U.S. will incorporate them by law.
What this means — the current GPS system can figure out where you are to within a 3 to 6 meter range, and scientists are working on a way to create text messages attached to the space you are currently occupying — these messages would then pop up for any other similarly equipped phone/PDA that passes through the same space (presumably if you scan for it, or if it passes your ‘approved users’ screen).
Think about this — every point on the planet has it’s own personal pop-up web page. Read reviews of restaurants from previous customers who stood in the same line that you did. It is the internet envisioned in David Brin’s Earth (one of the more realistic-but-optimistic near-future fictions I’ve ever read).
Man, the hide-and-seek game you could play with something like this. Can you imagine?
The high-tech treasure hunts.
Thing’s gonna make Majestic look like Pong.
Brust’s The Sun, the Moon, & the Stars isn’t about writing. It’s also one of the best books about writing, written by a writer, that I’ve read. A couple of the bits that I read before and liked have been banging around in my head, and I dug out the book and found them today.and
I do know artists who say, “I can’t look at other people’s work while I’m painting because their style creeps in.” The first time I heard that, I did a cartoon of Gauguin’s style creeping into Cezanne’s work, and I called it “Such tragedy.” I thought it was pretty obvious, but the people who ought to get it never do.
I can’t understand that attitude. So, someone’s style has an influence on you. So what? Is his ghost going to come and push your brush around? […] Whoever else you’re looking at, you are the one doing the painting, and that’s that.
When I get this far into a project, it always starts to drag, no matter how excited I am. The important thing is to keep going, and, no matter how much it hurts, to take care that each stroke is applied correctly. A lot of my worst work has been done during the middle stage of a project, when I feel that, if I’m sloppy here I can make up for it later — but you can only repaint something a certain number of times before you’re going to lose some of the luster, or, if you keep wiping things off with turpentine, before you hurt the canvas itself.
I took frequent breaks here; to sit back and rest. I read for a bit, painted for a bit, and read some more. The important thing at this point was to keep going, and not let myself get burned out.
I’ve been thinking about an interview with Roger Zelazny that I read a few years ago. I remember very distinctly a few of the things he wrote:
“I try to write every day, four times a day… It doesn’t sound like much but it’s kinda like the hare and the tortoise. If you try that several times a day you’re going to do more than three sentences, one of them is going to catch on. You’re going to say “Oh boy!” and then you just write. You fill up the page and the next page. But you have a certain minimum so that at the end of the day, you can say “Hey […] at least I didn’t goof off completely today.” I don’t get writer’s block. I’ve slowed down sometimes. I can always write and that’s the thing with three sentences at a time, even if you’re feeling sluggish you can always get three sentences out.”
I’ve always found Zelazny’s attitude towards writing very inspiring — there’s no mystique about it — in his opinion, someone with one short story to their name is as much a ‘professional’ as someone with umpteen Hugo’s and 50 books in print.
Just a thought.
[update: finally found the interview over here]
I discovered a neat little freeware (!) program called Rough Draft, a light word processor specifically designed to help one write a book or screenplay. There are a variety of features included in the program to make writing in these formats easier, and it seems pretty useful. Also interesting since it’s more robust than, say Notepad or Metapad, without getting into the bloat that is M$ software
The Roughdraft homepage is here.
I think I’m going to start carrying my old journal with me. It’s not a big bulky item, and I’d always promised myself that I would eventually fill in all the pages in one of those blasted things, sometime during my life.
I made it pretty far into the journal on my first go-round before things started getting intermittent. Starting the website was the death-knell for the poor little book, but I might be able to fill in a few more pages.
Why? We’ll, I’d like to keep it and a pen handy for those (few) times when I think of something to write down for this book and I don’t have a computer at hand (when I wake up from a dream, or when I’m in the car or at a Con or someone’s house. Something.
On the other hand, a little ‘reporter’s notepad’ is 1.38 at any local gas station, and even smaller than the journal (though it doesn’t have the cool cover.