Sunday, November 28, 2004

needle in the hay

For those of you who have been reading my romance novel, or rather, irritably awaiting the next installment, I sincerely apologize. I really needed a whole weekend off from work, etc., and the romance novel just didn't happen :( However, while it looks like I will not finish it in November, since that is only two days away, I am not going to stop writing it all together. I'd like to finish by New Years, but we'll see--the next three weeks are going to be super busy at work, so that makes it hard. And, there are all sorts of things to prepare for Christmas--I need to go shopping, and Terry and I are planning to decorate the apartment (we're going shopping tomorrow), and I have a Christmas party to go to on Friday for work, and I want to bake cookies and do other fun Christmasy things. Yay for Christmas!

Anyway, about my weekend, since my mother was concerned that I was dead because I didn't post the entire time...

Wednesday night, I started out with a fun Taco Bell run with Ritu and Sri, and then I mixed up two batches of my grandma's famous rolls, which turned out much better than the test batch I made last weekend, most likely because it was warmer in my apartment with a working heater and they actually had a chance to rise. Claudia and Marco came over (natives bearing pies!...that was Marco, not me, although I was more than happy to throw in some smallpox-blanket jokes, as is my wont) with some awesome pumpkin pies that Claude had made, and they watched VH1 with me for a couple of hours before going to San Diego for the weekend. Thursday, I got up and went to FloMo with 36lbs of turkey, my still-rising roll dough, the pies, 40 boiled eggs for deviled eggs, and all sorts of other fun things, and I proceeded to cook all day. It was fun, although I got a massive headache by the end of it--the turkeys turned out well, and the rolls were good, and my green bean casserole and corn casserole were as good as always, but there were a lot of people there, most of whom I didn't know, and it struck me as slightly awkward that I was basically running a thanksgiving dinner in a dorm when five or six of the current staffmembers were there and could have done it themselves. I don't mean awkward in the sense that I didn't want to do it, rather in the sense that it seemed strange to show up and organize it when it's not my dorm or my kids anymore, and had I been the staff, I probably would not have been overly thrilled (although getting a lot of cooking out of me would have been nice). Anyway, I hung out in Gavilan for awhile after dinner, then came home...

Friday, I went to Sonoma with Ritu and her boyfriend Maneesh. There were supposed to be like eight of us, but everyone else bailed, so it was just the three of us. Sounds like a bad idea, eh? But it wasn't, it was super-fun, and I love spending time with Ritu, and her boyfriend is tres entertaining as well. I only planned to stay until late Friday night, but I ended up staying until Saturday night instead. Friday, we were huge dorks, and saw the Charles Schulz museum (he drew Peanuts, in case you don't remember), and the lame Snoopy labrinyth that they're making that is currently only grass up to my ankles rather than seven-foot shrubs, and then we gawked at some men at a rehabilitation center when we found that the cool-looking chateau we saw from the highway was a Salvation Army men's site rather than a winery, and we had dinner at Chevy's and watched Finding Neverland. Verdicts: the museum was entertaining for awhile, the rehabilitation center was hilarious in a sick way, Chevy's was super-satisfying and way cheaper than the gourmet places nearby, and Finding Neverland tugged at the heartstrings in a surprisingly effective way.

Saturday, we had brunch at a dinner, then toured some wineries. It was really really great--I'd never done the traditional wine-tasting stuff before, and I had a fantastic time. We saw five wineries (Ledson, Kenwood, Benziger, Valley of the Moon, and Sebastiani), I bought two wines (a pinot noir from Ledson and a muscat from Benziger), and we tasted about twenty different wines, which was a good amount. We also took a tram tour of Benziger, which was cool, since we got to see the caves where they store the wine and I learned more about wine production. Yay learning. We had dinner at Panda Express (nothing soaks up expensive wine better than orange chicken!), went back to the hotel, I watched Men in Black while Ritu and Maneesh hung out in the hot tub, and then I decided to drive home, since I wanted to sleep in my own bed.

Today, I slept for like eleven hours, then cleaned the kitchen to rid myself of the filth remaining from the half-washed pans I dragged back from Thanksgiving dinner, then did some desultory VH1-watching, then read a romance novel. It wasn't very good--I hate anachronisms in romance novels, they throw me off, and so I was not pleased when the chick found a color photograph of her husband. The book was set in 1873, the picture was ostensibly of him as a child, which puts the photo in the late 1840s--so it's *possible* that he had a photo taken of him then, but the first color photograph was produced in 1872, and so unless it was hand-colored, she could hardly recognize his cobalt eyes staring out at her. Hmph.

Anyway, that's my life right now. I had a fun Thanksgiving, and Christmas is coming! Happy Holidays, everyone...

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

somebody has to go to prison

The title is one of my favorite lines from 'National Treasure,' which I saw tonight with Shedletsky. I almost feel the need to apologize to anyone I even *invited* to see the movie with me...it was not very good. Granted, it was a cheesy adventure movie that circled around a map hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence--but for some reason I was expecting more. However, I did enjoy myself, and if I ever get super-rich I'm going to create a game that involves finding clues across New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Boston just because I can.

Anyway, one more day of work, and then four days off! Hopefully I get some good romance-novel writin' in during that time period. First, though, I'm making Thanksgiving dinner for thirty, which should prove to be quite a treat :) At the very least it will be a feat of planning; peeling and mashing 10-15lbs of potatoes will be tres exciting. Yay.

Congratulations to Claudia for getting a job! And congratulations to my landlord for fixing our heaters. My apartment is now liveable, and it now has a definite termination date since Claudia can now move. How exciting is that?

Monday, November 22, 2004

better

I slept for like eleven hours last night, and my headache is gone. Yay. Now if only the heater worked, things would be great.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

hiatus

I woke up today, made a test batch of my grandma's rolls (they tasted almost as good, but weren't nearly as pretty), and had dinner w/Terry and our friends Lisa and Doug, who were in town for the weekend for Big Game. Then I tried to write some of my romance novel at Starbucks, but I have a really truly massive headache that is trying to split my head open, and so the mood wasn't really right.

More importantly, though, I've hit a wall. It was all well and good to set up the plot, and pretty easy since the two characters are averse to commitment and relationships, and those are things I'm very aware of. However, now they've met, and I suddenly can't think of anything for them to do. It's very hard to write romance when you yourself have no real belief that it will ever happen to you. My experiences with the opposite sex have been closer to the absurd than to the romantic, and so most of this has to be done as a pure exercise of imagination. Which is as it should be, of course, since it's taking place in Regency-era Scotland. However, a) it hurts to spend hours a day imagining a developing happiness between two people, even if they are figments of my imagination, when I'm not developing any sort of similar happiness myself, and b) I'm afraid that it's just going to sound so stupid and implausible because right now I'm thinking that it's stupid and implausible for anyone to fall in love.

So, my pessimism is making the writing process difficult. I will get back on the horse at some point (even though, to quote Zoolander, I'm not a gymnast), but I'm taking a break tonight to nurse my headache. Sorry, kids.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

wedding bells ain't gonna chime (except in my romance novel)

I just posted Chapter Four; I'm up to 14,217 words. That's still well behind my goal of 50,000 by the end of November, but definitely doable since I'll have all of Thanksgiving to work on it. They got married, but they still haven't really said anything to each other; the fun will start in earnest as soon as the guests leave. This is hard, though, because I feel like kind of a hack for writing romance, since it's all pretty derivative, and I don't like feeling like a hack. However, it's fun, it's going mostly smoothly, and I think with some edits and some work on pacing, it could be really good. Edits will have to wait until I'm done, however, since I don't have time to fix plot issues until I know exactly how the book will end.

In other news, I love Bon Jovi; I listened to the entire box set today at work, which was almost five hours of music. And I listened to 'The Radio Saved My Life Tonight' on repeat for an hour and a half at Starbucks while I worked on my novel. I also had Pizza Chicago w/Joanna (upgrade!) and Curt/Shedletsky (downgrade! - just kidding, kids), so that was fun.

Now it's definitely time for bed, I can't be particularly late tomorrow because I have a ton of meetings, and it'll be three o'clock at least before I fall asleep. Sad times! So I hope chapter four was worth it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

upgrade!

Today was a great day; I went to work, worked, had lunch w/one of my favorite coworkers, worked some more, and then went to Straits Cafe for my group's Q4 dinner. I organized, so I was happy that it went off without a hitch. The food was sooooo good; we had a $50/person budget, and the set menu at that price is great--tasty naan and these awesome garlic mussels for appetizers, and great salad, several entrees (chicken curry, prawns, awesome salmon, some good vegetable stir fry), and fantastic desserts. We also ordered drinks, so I had this really really tasty strawberry mojito. It felt very grown-up, but also very deja-vu-ish, since the westflo staff had dinner there my senior year, and we sat at the same tables tonight that we sat at for staff dinner. It was great, though, and I'm happy we went.

Then, I stopped by Best Buy on the way home (or rather went completely out of my way to Best Buy), and bought '100,000,000 Fans Can't Be Wrong', Bon Jovi's four-cd boxed set of 50 previously unreleased songs from the past twenty years. I haven't gotten a chance to listen to most of it, but that's okay, I'm sure I'll get around to it at work tomorrow.

i'm in total control

I posted Chapter Three, Part Two to the romance novel blog just now. I had written part of it on Saturday, but then I got to the point where the hero and heroine have come across each other unexpectedly and unsuspectingly in the kitchen, neither realizing who the other one is. Then I hit the wall, since I couldn't figure out what they should do next. So they kiss. But that was hard to write, since then it felt really cheesy. I was just so afraid of this because what if they don't like each other? Or what if there isn't any real chemistry? So I left them standing in the kitchen for two days while I had dim sum, and did my laundry, and worked, and avoided them.

However, I've finished chapter three now. The wedding is tomorrow! Until then--chapter three = upgrade! [I mean upgrade in the 'best week ever' sense, not the 'matrix' sense]

Friday, November 12, 2004

sh-sh-shaking

I wrote the first half of chapter three tonight in an hour at Starbucks; I only had an hour because I watched 'The OC' first, then went to Starbucks around 9:30, and the one on Castro St. inexplicably closes at 10:30 instead of 11. Damn. Then I came home and got sucked into Comedy Central, and I started reading up on how to write a Scottish accent (because it's been awhile since I've read any Scottish romance novels, they're not as abundant as I would like them to be), and now I really need to go to bed because I have tons of work to do tomorrow. Sigh. I would have liked to have had my characters finally meet each other tonight, but it's not going to happen. The second half of chapter three will get the proverbial ball rolling, though. I hope to write it tomorrow night.

In many ways I think that posting the novel as I go is good for me; I'm such a perfectionist typically that I don't like people reading my stuff until either a) it's perfect or b) I still have the excuse that I haven't proofread yet. And I'm not proofreading, so I'm sure any roughnesses will come out easily in later edits. But, when you're trying to write 50000 words in a month, you don't really have the luxury of prolonged, perfection-ensuring edits.

I'm currently at 7,962 words, which is a great start, but a little less than an eighth of the way to my goal. Even worse, I looked at the avon romance webpage last night, and they want books for publication that are in the 100000 word range. Definitely doable, since they won't even be married by the time I hit 10,000 words, and there is a lot of story left to tell...but I don't know if I can write 90,000 more words in November, since it's almost half over. We shall see...I'm not giving up yet. Maybe it's a more realistic goal to say that I have to hit 50000 by the end of November, and then finish it/edit it by New Years so that I can start contacting publishers?

Anyway, I think it's bedtime!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

and it continues!

I posted the second half of Chapter Two on my novel blog. Yay! They still haven't met yet :) The goal for the second half of chapter two was to make Malcolm likeable before he turned completely insane in his quest to rid himself of his bride. Wheeee.

I would have written more, but I was distracted. I was at work until eight pm, then I went straight to campus and took Ritu out for coffee, then I came home to discover that one of Terry's old frosh was visiting, then I watched all of Letterman because my parents had tickets for today's show, but alas I didn't see them. So I finished chapter two, but now it's time for bed. I will write more this weekend, I promise! The plot is definitely coming together in my mind...

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

mea culpa

Sorry kids, I just wrote another ~800 words of my novel, but it was the rest of chapter 2, and I can't keep my eyes open to finish the chapter and I don't want to publish another snippet. So you'll have to be patient. I know that I'm slacking off, but it's going to be a hellish week work-wise. I had to do an hour and a half of work from home last night, and I was at work until after 7:30 today, and I have to stay until almost eight tomorrow and then have coffee with Ritu. This weekend, though...I've plotted out the next five chapters, and they should be a piece of cake to write when I get started.

Anyway, I can't complain too much about work; part of staying late was a meeting from 7-7:30, but the other part was a massage from 6-7. It was super nice, although not *entirely* relaxing; it was weird, the wall of the massage room is adjacent to my boss's office, and so I could periodically hear his voice, which just reminded me of all the stuff I needed to get done. But it was nice, even if I did end up saturated in massage cream, and so I may have to do it again sometime. Then Claudia brought over the plague that she has, but more importantly the *amazing* cheesecake that she had made. It was heavenly cheesecake--you should make really good friends with her so she brings you cheesecake. It's the best :)

Time for bed! I'll finish chapter two tomorrow, I promise.

Monday, November 08, 2004

blogging by fits and bursts

So it's definitely true that I have to be in the right mood to write, and for the past few days I haven't hit that place. It's not that nothing is going on, and it's not that I'm in a bad mood--I'm just not feeling the compulsive necessity to document all the minutiae of my life. I'm just feeling...content with the way my life is right now.

Flash of insight--maybe this is what it is like to be Walter. Silent and content :)

Okay, so that was a joke. But life is good. I'm starting to be overworked at work, which is a good thing, actually...I always feel like my presence is more valuable there when I'm forced to kick it up a notch. I'm currently technically 50/50 split between two different jobs, but it's more like 60/60 and will only get more intense as the holidays approach. Yay.

I didn't write anything in my novel tonight because I left work and had dinner with Renee at CPK, then shared my leftovers with John, who happened to be on campus. Then I came home and worked for an hour and a half, talked to Terry, and now it's time for bed. I'm working through the plot in my head, and I think that it's going well, although my writing is pretty rough (repetitions of phrases that I do not approve of, etc.) Of course, I churned out 4000 words in a few hours, so what can you expect? The plot course that I'm charting right now relies to some extent on convincing the heroine that the hero is uneducated to the point that he can't read--which will be difficult, since I've already stipulated that the mothers of these people know each other and the girl has met the guy's mother before. If the mother is all that is polished, how can her son be illiterate? But, I shall figure something out. I've got some rather entertaining scenes worked out in my head, so I hope that I get a chance to write more this week. I think Claudia's coming over tomorrow to bring me cheesecake and a sizable dose of the plague, so maybe I can call in sick later this week and write instead...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

it has begun

I wrote the Prologue and Chapter One of my romance novel today; it's pretty rough, and was written in three hours at Starbucks, but there isn't time for editing in this game. It's on my novel blog, linked through my profile.

Life is good; I had brunch at Hobees today w/Terry, had dim sum yesterday and saw 'The Grudge,' which was terrible, and saw 'The Incredibles' Friday night after I got free movie tickets at work. Yay. I took Vidya with me, and that was fun. This week promises to be super busy, and I hope to write some more of my romance novel...a chapter is a good start, but it does not a book make.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

updates...

1) I'm annoyed about the election, but not for the same reasons my friends are, so we'll leave it at that.

2) I had dinner in Sausalito tonight with Claudia, my aunt Becky, and her boyfriend...it was very very tasty, and Sausalito was gorgeous despite the dark and the wet. Driving up during rush hour was not so fun, but it was really good to see Aunt B, and dinner was great.

3) I had lunch with Vidya today; I picked her up at her place of work, and we went to a Malaysian place nearby. It was v. fun, and now I intend to have lunch with her on a more regular basis. Whee.

4) Day 3 of NaNoWriMo and I haven't written anything. Surprised? You shouldn't be. I shall write this weekend...my idle processes are dedicated to formulating a plot. It will not involve bear porn (Claudia was quite surprised when my aunt told the boyfriend that I look at bear porn at work, and my aunt told her that we have a very open family). When I have started, I will explicitly link to it here; it's already linked through my profile, since the blog has been created despite my lack of substantive material.

5) Work is good, but I'm really tired, and so it's time for bed.

Monday, November 01, 2004

addiction

I watched five episodes of last season' 'The O.C.' tonight. Sigh. A little ridiculous, I know...but we only have two discs left until I'm all caught up, and then I have to watch it one episode at a time, just like everyone else.

The *grossest* thing happened today. I was making spaghetti for dinner, and I was boiling a pot of water, and I guess the steam was the last straw for the kitchen, because it suddenly started raining grime. Honestly. Apparently the hood over the stove, which I have never bothered to look under before, was just caked in filth, which has been progressively loosened by my nightly teas, and finally came undone entirely when the spaghetti pot was steaming. Luckily it didn't rain into the spaghetti, but rather on the front part of the stove, so dinner was saved...but honestly, it was just hideous. Wet, greasy, dirty blobs of filth everywhere. So after dinner, Terry and I took turns cleaning it (she had a bit too much wine and so was actually excited about it, which was strange, but more than welcome). Now the stove is beautifully clean, the hood will no longer rain, and happiness returns.

So I know that National Novel Writing Month has officially started, and I intend to follow through. However, 'The O.C.' was more pressing tonight. I will write tomorrow while watching election coverage...