November 29, 2005

Now I've REALLY done it.

I can't believe I've actually written two novels. (Plus a novella a few years ago, but frankly that one works better as kindling than reading material.) Tonight (or this morning, for those scoring at home), I finished the final chapter of "Crossings", my second novel in two years. No idea if it's any good yet as I've not read it. I think I'll wait for the movie.

Perhaps most surprising to me is that when I was younger, I always envisioned myself as writing fantasy or science fiction. Instead, my first two novels really are more in the literary fiction/mainstream fiction category. Who'd have thunk it?

November 28, 2005

What a great job

Although I would much rather have no job at all, since I must be employed I am quite glad I have the job I do. I work for Wells Fargo, a little bank on the west coast. Maybe you've heard of it. Actually, it's one of only 17 publicly held American companies to have been in existence for over 150 years. It's got a cool history museum at the downtown San Francisco headquarters where you can see one of the old stage coaches that carried pioneers and gold across the old west. But that's just part of why I like my job. The real reason is that I help people give money away for a living.

Wells Fargo was just named by Business Week as the nation's #9 most generous company in terms of philanthropy. It's nice to know that my company, which has been making money by the supertanker-load for the last several years, does give some amount of that back. And it's nice to know that I helped directly in allowing the company to win all four top achievement awards from United Way of America in 2004. And that my work has helped our employees go from giving $12 million in charitable donations three years ago to somewhere near $22 million this year.

When you have to get up early and get on the train with people coughing and sneezing around you, and you have to sit in a cube all day in front of a computer, these are nice things to remember about your job. Best of all, since I work with other people who give money away for a living, I generally work with nice people. Not a lot of sales pressure in my line of work.

Why am I blogging this? I've found that when I'm writing, especially during NaNoWriMo, I think how wonderful it would be to quit everything and write novels full time. So I need to remind myself from time to time that what I do matters, and it's pretty good being able to do what I do.

By the way, I just passed 60,000 words and am closing in on the end of the book. Another 3,000 or so and it will be all over.

November 25, 2005

Quietly past 2,100

No, that's not my word count for the day. It's the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq. So far.

November 23, 2005


Last night I reached 50,000 words. That means I've reached my NaNoWriMo goal, but I still have a ways to go before the story is finished. I'm shooting for the end of the first week of December to finish the entire novel, earlier if I can swing it.

November 21, 2005

The writer's world, part 2

Tell me I'm smart.
Tell me I'm witty. Or charming. Or that I have nice teeth.
Tell me that my shirt goes with my eyes, or that my voice sounds unusually confident today.
Tell me that that girl, you know the one, has a crush on me.
Tell me my kids are so well-behaved that you have renewed hope for humanity's future.
Tell me you like my aftershave even though you know I didn't use any.
Tell me I am a credit to my parents.
Tell me you like my haircut, or that my shoes seem to fit exceedingly well.
Tell me my socks match my eyes, or that my frown makes me look intellectual.
Tell me you just finished reading a wildly successful book, and that not a word of it was worth a cent of your money.

Yes, I've been writing today. How can you tell?

November 18, 2005

a writer's world

inspiration comes
riding its huge, black charger, lance pointed,
an armored beast snorting steam and snot

inspiration comes
passing through the glass door and ordering a mocha,
floating into a plain, wooden chair the color of her hair

inspiration comes
with hiss of runners slicing snow,
the frigid breath of winter icing my lips and teeth

inspiration comes
gliding scarlet and gold on a black current, dancing on an eddy,
beconing its brethren to descend

inspiration comes
arm wrapped tight around fuzzy bear's neck,
eyes closed and soft, warm cheeks rose-pink in the night

November 17, 2005

The Big Game

It's that time of the week again. Read my Big Game Preview over at The Cal Insider to see why I'm predicting the Bears will retain the axe with a 28-10 final score.

Go Bears!

November 13, 2005

Textbook Disclaimer Stickers

Some of these textbook disclaimer stickers [PDF] are difficult to believe. I recommend you read them all before judging them.

And thanks to the wonders of TV advertising, I just learned that my life could be drastically improved if I had a car that could sense raindrops and automatically turn on my windshield wipers. I suppose that's designed for the people who are putting on mascara, drinking hot coffee, talking on the phone, and handing things to their small children in the back seat. Who has time to turn on windshield wipers? Come to think of it, who has time to look out the windshield anyway?

Winning isn't everything...

... but it sure feels better than losing, and even bad beer tastes good after a dominating win. For five years I managed my men's over-30 soccer team to mediocre records and eventual relegation. I sacked myself after last season but somehow was retained as assistant manager, and this year in the bottom division we are 2/3 of the way through the season with six wins, one draw, and one loss. Today's win virtually assured us a top-two spot in the division and put us in the driver's seat to win it outright. It's always been fun, but it's more fun to win.

Although I wrote only about 2,000 words this weekend, I'm still on a good pace to make well over 55,000 in November.

November 10, 2005

Big, Bad Cal Mauls Poor USC

I will never forget that huge headline the year that Cal demolished USC, scoring 50+ points in the process. That is not likely to happen this year, though I am predicting a Cal upset. The Bear will not quit; the Bear will not die.

Go Bears!

Nano Nano

Last Thursday I went to my first NaNoWriMo "write-in" at a local cafe. I was only slightly disappointed to have it be just me and the local coordinator--I was hoping for more people, but I was happy that the coordinator was an attractive, charming, interesting young woman. We both got a tremendous amount of writing done.

Tonight's write-in at the same location was also good: Ten writers showed up. I got less written because there was more chatting, but they were all nice people. I am hoping some subset of us form an ongoing writing group. I am very near 20,000 words now (somewhere near 19,700), and that is right on track for meeting my personal goal of 60,000 for the month.

If any of my regular readers (I think there are three of you) or any lurkers (yeah, right) want to read either my work in progress or the first draft of last year's novel, I would be happy to share.

You'll laugh; you'll cry. They're better than "Cats."

I have nearly perfect teeth

The dentist told me so today. She's a new dentist and was amazed at the quality of my choppers. I think if she wasn't married she would have taken me right there on the spot, so enamored of my pearly whites was she.

But maybe she says that to all the boys.

November 9, 2005


My tattoo is relatively inconspicuous. It is on my left calf, only about two inches tall and an inch and a half wide. That's it, over there, on the right.

What is it? Norse runes. Three separate runes, superimposed onto each other. I won't say I'm any expert on the subject, but google is a wondrous thing, and you can learn the basics pretty quickly. The three runes have the following meanings:

  • The first represents bravery, energy, passion, and victory;
  • The second represents health, wealth, and happiness;
  • The third represents harvest, eventual success, and the cycle of life.
As a gestalt symbol, to me it represents the idea of eventual success in all endeavors through a trusting in the cycles of life and the natural order, a trusting in one's own bravery and internal fortitude, and a focus on spiritual health (not in terms of religious study but in terms of personal spirit).

I have never regretted for one second getting it, and I find myself wearing shorts more often to show it off. I often forget I have it, but it does help me focus sometimes when I think about the meaning.

Update, several years later: I should have added an actual photo at the time.

Lonely Haiku

No comments in days.
What does a guy have to do?
Get a nose piercing?

November 8, 2005

An Even Better Feeling

I did not have one single bomb blow up on my street today. And it's an election day here! I thought that democracies were supposed to have bombs blowing up at polling places, marines and army positioned all over. I thought there were supposed to be lines and lines of people with purple thumbs. I guess it'll be a while before the kind of democracy that everyone is so proud of creating in Iraq makes its way to my town. Until then, I guess I'll just have to suffer through what we have.

And this year, for the first time since I turned 18, I was a Bad Citizen. I did not vote. Although I did help many voters cross the street safely to get to the polling place. Does that count?

November 7, 2005

A very good feeling

I love the feeling I get when I return to my desk at work and there is no voice mail for me.


On Sunday I managed to surpass 10,500 words. That puts me right on track, though my personal goal is actually 60,000, and I'm behind on that. This is the time of the month when I begin thinking that my story is crap, the characters are boring, the writing is mediocre at best, and what's the point of carrying such a loser pile of garbage all the way to 50,000 words? I know, however, that's a totally normal feeling at this point, so I'll power through it and aim for 28,000 by the end of this coming Sunday. That's an average of 2,500 a day, certainly achievable but not easy. Between 4 and 5 pages a day.

Years ago I used to read Dear Abby because it sat next to the comics in my local paper. I remember only one bit of good advice in all the years I read it. A young woman had written in to say she wanted to pursue a graduate degree through night school, but it would take her five years to complete, and by then she'd be 35 years old. Dear Abby wrote, "In five years you'll be 35 anyway, and wouldn't it be better to be 35 with your degree than 35 without it?"

I am figuring that next year I'll be 39 anyway, and wouldn't it be better to be 39 with two completed novels than 39 with only one? (Maybe some day I'll even submit them for publication.)

November 4, 2005

Bears to Stomp on Ducks

Cal visits Oregon tomorrow, ABC at 12:30. The Ducks are on fire at 7-1. But Smokey the Bear will stamp out the burning Ducks because a flock of Ducks without an experienced starting quarterback is like a grilled cheese sandwich without a jackhammer. Or something like that.

Read about it here.

November 2, 2005

WriMo Inspiration, Part Deux

Are you writing a romance novel? I'm not. But I still found this site to be extremely helpful in many ways. Mostly in helping me laugh. Be sure you have a half hour or more to give it the time it so richly deserves.

Some WriMo Inspiration

Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay.
--Flannery O'Connor

Writing is not a profession, but a vocation of unhappiness.
--Georges Simenon

Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.
--Norman Mailer

Writing stopped being fun when I discovered the difference between good writing and bad and, even more terrifying, the difference between it and true art. And after that, the whip came down.
--Truman Capote

I always start writing with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind.
--Patrick Dennis

November 1, 2005

How is that possible?

I was reading a 401(k) newsletter from my employer this morning, and in one sidebar graphic they showed the US savings rate declining over the past several years. This is the amount that US families are saving from their income. The savings rate declined to zero percent (0%) in June of this year.

What confuses me, though, is the caption. It said that 0% was the "second-lowest rate since the great depression."

How, exactly, is zero percent the second-lowest rate in 60 years?