## Archive for the ‘NaNoWriMo’ Category

### November’s gone

December 1, 2011

November is gone; I have once again written a 50k-plus-word novel. As you may recall, this one is my first in English; I fully intend to inflict it on you once I get it into more manageable condition; probably in January.

As it is now… it’s not all that pretty. 50k words in 30 days (well, 23 days and a week of rest — well, 22 days writing because one day went dead from traveling) means I haven’t seen most of the words since I wrote them. Which usually means that about once every two pages I’ve written the wrong word — not just a badly chosen word, which come oftener, but literally thought “I’ll write ‘he ate the mushroom'” and then written “he ate that mushroom”. And it seems my other chosen mistype is ending verbs with -d instead of -s, or the other way round.

And then there are those cool details that I, er, forgot the next day and need to look out for, and the sudden twists that could look a lot less random and desperate with a bit foreshadowing, and the sort. (It’s nice to be such a clueless chump as I am; because I lack all appreciation and understanding of literature, I can freely and happily wallow in my own tricks, and think them good.)

Er, have a graph.

The blue squares tell the wordcount after each day; the red line tells the steady average (1666 words/day) to finish 50k in 30 days. (As for those typical mistakes, I first wrote “me wordcount” when I meant “the wordcount”.)

It was around day 14 that I hit a plot tangle; because of that, I finished in 23 days and not 17-18. And yup, the first few days are 3500, 2000, 3200, 3350, 3100 words; sometimes you are just a conduit for the Story Gods. (In this case Eris and Megatron.)

As for the technical bits, well, I wrote straight into Texmaker, a LaTeX editor for Ubuntu. Straight into a generic book template of my own tinkering, with the page size, margins, font and etcetera corresponding roughly to those of your typical mass market paperback. Mostly because it makes the novel seem so much more real when you can compile it and see you’re at page 41 already. (I understand people who do this professionally use some double-spaced Courier thingie — I find that ugly, and as this is mainly a project of personal amusement and gratification, I use what I most enjoy.)

(And there’s nothing wrong with “personal amusement and gratification”, provided you don’t disturb other people and wash your hands afterwards.)

As for the writing experience, well, whee! English is easy! At least for quantity; I shan’t opine on quality. And at least when you’ve done the 50k words in 30 days in Finnish a couple of times; there may be the same number of letters used, but Finnish uses longer, agglutinative words. I easy hit 3000 words per day when the plot went forward. (Generally speaking it did.)

As is usual, after the first two weeks I had to periodically doodle up and lock away Ideas; getting into writing means I start getting big huge Ideas for the other stories I could be writing. Sometimes high and flighty concepts; sometimes just single lines, like an alien barking “Look like humans? Ha! Ha! Ha! The most self-centered statement I’ve ever heard—“, or “nnwm cyoa” — a NaNoWriMo novel that is a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Or the idea of a portal fantasy, people of our world thrown into one of fantasy, with two novel differences: (1) the “normal” people aren’t there for a reason, and have that crucial bit of initiative to come up with a Reason on their own; and (2) are mature enough to look around and say, “Golly gee! This medieval place could benefit from a few modern tricks of technology, but even moreso from a few ideas of morality! Like feminism, rights for gays, a little bit less Orc-demonization and some democracy and— wait a moment, they will think us Dark Lords as sure as Pat Robertson does— and is it right to force them into this or should we seduce— and wait, this is becoming a really awkward colonialism parallel—”

Also, “To think of really impractical ideas, how about a darker and edgier novel reboot of the life and times of Scrooge McDuck?”

Yup; of the ideas, the NaNoWriMo CYOA is the most practicable; I think I have a few thousand words I wrote a year or two ago somewhere that would work for it. They start with You landing at Helsinki Airport to deliver a package to the University since you’re passing through and have a day to spare; pretty soon insanity, mania, body-shaved bears and deranged heavy metal musicians intrude and the forests have You.

I could write each bit in a different file and then work up a bash script to turn them to proper linked html and put them up at— or hammer (typoed in as “matter”) out macros for hyperlinks in a pdf file and— ah, that’s a project for a different day. (Wait a minute, it should not be impossible to create such source files and bash-macros that they’d create both tex-pdf and a cluster of html—)

### Oh, the ideas

November 16, 2011

Our department not being all that formal — or so I hope — I began it with a “Hei.”, your basic Finnish version of the English “Hi.” with a crazy ethnic vowel added to it.

Then I fought myself for two terrible seconds, because I’m a horrible, inappropriate person, and managed to send the message without adding an L after the I. Because the likely outcomes would have been cold quiet outrage, or a message to the mailing list telling the head had a huge new retro idea for addressing him. (“Und fur ze Graduate Students, schnappy black Uniforms!”)

Because, you see, the Finnish word for your departmental head is “laitoksen johtaja”, or “the department’s leader”. And “leader” is what that German F-word means. Also “driver”, as in “Führerschein”, German for a driver’s license. Which I’m sure has caused plenty of horrible humor from young ones that’ve just got theirs.

Hans, to Gretel: “I’ve got the license! Let’s take a car and go invade Poland!”

Gretel, to Hans: “We are no longer friends.”

As you may gather, Finns are not that good with either respect or taste. And the head is actually a nice guy and not likely to become a fascistic dictator at the first opportunity; but to quote an old office proverb, illustrating the problem of orientation in hierarchy and its consequences in perception, “bosses look down and see shit; underlings look up and see assholes”.

* * *

In other, non-fecal news (though I could argue…), the NaNoWriMo novel is at about 40 000 words — which means, 4/5 of the required minimum after 1/2 of the time; woo hoo!) — and just had a climax in it. A sane, skilled writer would say “that’s it!” and write “the end”, but I am a) too interested in the fallout, b) not satisfied with the abruptness, and c) 10 000 words shy of victory.

### Status update and idea dump

November 7, 2011

Ah, I’ve been caught up writing the NaNoWriMo-novel, and forgotten to put anything in here.

The novel’s at 17 700 words of 50 000 after Sunday’s writing, that is after 6 of the 30 days allocated for it. 35.4% done after 20% of the time; a credit to the non-agglutinative nature of English. Writing words is much more difficult in Finnish: for example, in Finnish you’d say

alussa Jumala loi taivaan ja maan (6 words)

but in English

in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (10 words);

these are not actual quotes from my novel.

The plot there? Eh, I’m not telling anything. Even telling the genre, well, it started in one, is now in another, but it’s really in a third.

Now, to clear my head for the seventh day of writing (because I don’t rest), I think I’ll list some of the novels I’m not writing — but someday will.

Maybe.

* * *

A fantasy novel: the sort of portal fantasy where a couple of resourceful young people are thrown into a Fantasy World — except here there seems to be no destiny for them, no Dark Lord to conquer — and they decide they will do something about the divine right of kings, the misogyny, the lack of democracy, the barbaric excuse of a justice system, and the other delightful medieval features of the Fantasy World.

For this they are, naturally, labelled as Dark Lords.

A war ensues; also tedious blather about whether it’s right to force improvement on those that don’t want it. (Also growing uneasiness that gol dang it, everyone will read this as commentary on colonialism and Finland never even had colonies, gosh darn it to double-hockey-sticks.)

* * *

Historical fiction: It would be nice to write historical fiction, but I’d probably go all Inglourious Basterds and (spoiler ahead) go and do a sharp swerve after the first one hundred pages; something on the level of, “whoops! We killed Hitler!”

For some reason I like alternate history more than straight historical fiction. Maybe it’s because alt-hist can be so playful with its references to the real one; hist-fic tends to become a hidden history (“I was Shakespeare’s Girlfriend! Also Wrote The Plays!”), which doesn’t excite me as much.

But straight-up historical fiction, well, Apollonius of Tyana (1st-century Neopythagorean philosopher/miracleworker, often touted as a parallel to you-know-who) or Alexander of Abonutichus (2nd-century, of the hand-puppet god Glycon) would be nice subjects; I’d just need to read a few books on the times to not get things too laughably wrong. (Note: Not commentary-on-Jesus novels; more like “amoral rogues run wild in the Roman Empire!” novels.)

* * *

Alternate history novel: What if there were ghosts? Or other supernatural beasties?

This is alt-hist because, God damn it, the world would be different if there were ghosts and ghouls and unicorns in it. Those things are out there on the periphery because they’re imaginary; they would have an impact on world history if they were real.

(I’m thinking of Troll: A Love Story, a novel by the Finnish weird fiction writer Johanna Sinisalo (a she), which as I recall (a) was a fine good book, and (b) had this diminutive troll lifeform worked into Finnish history, not as a hidden thing, but as just another part of that alternate history of the world; just another endangered “animal”.)

* * *

An alternate history / sci-fi novel: “What if Däniken was right?”

Supposition: Erich von Däniken, the prototypical ancient astronauts guy, was right. The gods of Egypt — of Incas — of the Easter Island — of Israel and Judea — were aliens, old extraterrestrial visitors to this late and lamented planet Earth. They were here; they are responsible for much of human civilization; they’re gone now.

This is a heavy alternate history, because Däniken’s claims are a bit silly in the real world; this alt-history would start showing signs of divergence from the 1950s at the very least, when Biblical archaeology and the Easter Island, Inca etc. excavations and discoveries started showing not figures kinda-sorta-maybe wearing space helmets, but actual skyscraper ruins, broken starships and screams of radioactivity at the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah!

Of all this, the chief expositor would be an amateur archaeologist referred to as “D(censored)”; because it wouldn’t be all that polite to make him into such a different character.

The plot would go like this:

1) These finds are made; they are sufficient to be accepted by the archaeological and scientific establishment; and to scare the hell out of the public and the political establishment.

2) Though they don’t ruin all of religion, they have horrible side effects because even the good and human parts are seen as “alien intrigue”. In the 1980s, a Pope is assassinated as an “alien collaborator” by a lone gunman nut, though there’s no sign the aliens have been on Earth for millennia. The very latest hint of them is Jesus; this means that of world religions Islam is least affected — until an intrepid adventurer finds out what’s inside the Kaaba. Shortly after, D(censored) is assassinated.

3) It becomes accepted, through further plot developments, that the Gods that were here were not nice guys; they pretty much enslaved humanity, became kings and queens and royal whatevers; and humankind don’t want its morals dictated to it by an alien invader, thank you very much. Thus a campaign begins to get into space, using the recovered alien relics and all human ingenuity, before the Gods return.

4) And in 2012, they do.

I’m kind of thinking points 1-3 would be the back story, and point 4 the actual novel.

Alternate title: “The Attack of God from Outer Space!”

* * *

No satire; I’m not good with talking of one thing while writing about another.

No comedies of manners, or other high society hijinx; I’m not proficient, and I’m not interested. I can think of little anything more mundanely horrifying that strutting around in a suit, exchanging polite nothings.

No Hollywood or New York adventures among the super rich and the fabulously beautiful; don’t know anything and don’t care to know. Similarly no car racing, no sports; though I could make up some bogus competition and chronicle it and the horrible people involved in it. (Not as a spoof of sports, though: you need more than visceral dislike and willful ignorance to inspire a story about something.)

Inspirational or spiritual literature… really, there aren’t enough Satanic Bibles already without me writing one? Sheesh, I’ll write a book of good advice sooner or later, but it will awful. I just won’t make it a novel.

No romance either; I’m inexperienced.

Erotic fiction… well no; smut, maybe. I like smut. I have horrible ideas; you do not want to hear them. (As for their level, look at the examples cited in this Jen McCreight post about a film festival in Seattle; it made me wish I’d been there. I don’t think either of us wants me to elaborate on this, or my fine collection of… Japanese fiction.)

* * *

A shinigami story: that is, a story like the manga/anime Bleach and Rin-ne. (Well, more Bleach than Rin-ne.)

That’d be a novel of an afterlife: not the depressing, tightly controlled Christian Heaven-Hell thing, but the Afterlife as just another place: you die here, and you are, maybe, in some fashion, dropped to the other world.

The shinigami (Japanese “death gods”) analogues would be the ones somehow employed as working between these two worlds, their employers not a God, but some much lesser authority of the other world (or partly of this one?); think something between Bleach’s Soul Society and the Catholic Church. (There’s an idea; a new Pope is elected, and the chief camerlengo takes him to a dark room and plays him a little film on How The World Really Works…)

The job of the “shinigami” would be maybe as “choosers of the slain”, or as “guides”, or as ones fighting some horrible “soul thief” or an organization of them.

Drama would ensue; war, anguish, worry over those that died or were likely to soon die; it could all begin the day the main character dies.

In other words, a peppy adventure combat story of DEATH. Me being me, including examples not suitable for children. (“Oh no! I need to die right now to get to help them! Quick, give me a hammer!”)

* * *

A mecha story: that is, a novel with giant human-piloted humanoid robots in it. Think Neon Genesis Evangelion, or Balatack, or the Gundam series.

Why?

Because it’s difficult to think of anything more prone to melodrama than 900-foot robots piloted by teenagers. And if I like emoting, I like over-emoting more.

(Why are you looking at me like that? It’s traditional the pilots are kids. Otherwise it turns into military fiction, which I’m not interested in.)

* * *

A sci-fi novel: “Holy Mass”.

A long time to the future, humanity is out there in space. Unfortunately they don’t have quicker-than-light propulsion, or any useful engines better than the old “throw stuff behind you to go forward” rockets. The novel (or a cycle of stories) follows the Mass Inspector of a big spaceship on a thousands-of-years drive from one star system to another.

Those in the ship are humans, sort of: more immortal cyborgs whose main human feature is a sort-of brain. Some are Traditionals whose bodies are imitations of the original human form (rubber masks and mechanical units with “clothes” over them — the Navigator looks human but has nothing but a spine at his belly, using the open space as pockets), some are sort-of Traditionals (the Mass Inspector is a brain in a jar, but the jar is on a bipedal body with two hands, and mounts for two more), and some are Neones (just “neo-ones”; the Captain is just a featureless cylinder with clusters of arms, thrusters, sensory pods and the like attached).

Because these “humans” live until an accident or will does otherwise, and because they’ve all agreed to endure the relative deprivations of the trip for the millennia it will take, they’re deferring having children until arrival.

And “children” would be “new brains, out of a machine womb and into training bodies, because human bodies are useless”, obviously. You don’t want a child to be trapped inside a person; that makes it so difficult to monitor and treat if a need arises, to say nothing of the inconvenience to the mother. Or the father. Or whoever the brain growth sac would be attached to… oh, you mean biological pregnancy? Eww! Horrible! Icky! No!

(If a human being is the mind, and the mind is the brain, then the rest of the body is dross if something else works just as well. If a human body will be “improved” by artificial parts, then it might be best to never have a body in the first place. Just generate the mind, and give it to the parents to raise.)

The “moral reason” for not having children mid-trip is a child would not have agreed to the (relative) deprivations of the trip, and it would be cruel to bring it into a deprived state it had not agreed to; after all, the trip takes millennia, and growing up is quick. You wouldn’t get pregnant in a prison, if the child had to grow up there, right? (There’d be a need to somehow write these people as a lot beyond even the most bleeding-heart person you know.)

Those “deprivations” are mostly that the ship has a certain fixed amount of mass which can’t be replenished out there, between the stars. (Here “mass” is treated as a lump thing that can be used either to personal pursuits, or then as rocket fuel. Probably not your Saturn rockets, these.) They have a generator or several that give more than sufficient energy for most personal fancies; but if they fritter and throw away their precious, holy mass, they will run into trouble if they need to steer; worse still, if they really run out of mass they can’t decelerate at the end of the trip! Everything is recycled, of course; but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a job for the Mass Inspector, because people can be loopy.

This could a cycle of “Hercule Poirot in Outer Space!”, come to think of it, the Mass Inspector being a sort of ersatz policeman/woman/creature, and the crimes being mass waste or general mystery anomaly as often as murder. Or then a sudden alien encounter!

* * *

Fantasy: Your average Old Wizard Meets Farmboy of Destiny story.

Except this time the Old Wizard is a crook, wanting to rule a kingdom from behind the throne, and the farmboy is just a farmboy.

It falls to the clear-eyed, sharp-tongued, be-mustachioed Sinister Duke to foil this evil plan; unfortunately, the people are in a glorious uproar over the Return of the King, there’s a war in the making against the Ancestral Enemy, the Old Wizard has magic, and did I mention the Old Wizard has magic? — and hiring the Sorceress Queen is, while possible, a potentially disastrous PR move.

* * *

Science fiction, sort of: A future history. Some sort of narrative of the future of humankind, like Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men. Charting the evolution and expanse of the human species and its descendants.

Because, as you can see from the outlines above, I’m not exactly a “here’s a great character that inspires the work!” guy. I’m the guy that mewls, “yeah great romance bla bla bla, now would you tell me how this city is governed? Oh and a list of rulers for the previous century please!”

It would be fun to write an immediate future history, the first two centuries or so, just throwing kings and empires around as fancy hit me. (Not “by 2100, religion was extinct! Also these people are totally bad/good” — but “And guess what, still new follies and glories!”) Then there would obviously be starflight, and whatever would be found out in space, and what would happen to poor old Earth.

I could even randomize it; decide that a one on a twenty-sided die was “asteroid impact!” and roll it for every decade. (And two would be nuclear war?) And write decade by decade and deal with a world-changing catastrophe when it hit.

Come to think of it, you could generate a lot of the randomness of history this way: have dice that said, say, “SUDDEN DEATH”, “NOT REALLY”, “IT’S WAR!”, “CUNNING INVENTION”, “IMPOSSIBLE GOOD LUCK” and “IT GOT WORSE”, and then roll them now and then as you wrote. Or make an Excel/OpenOffice/whatever spreadsheet that used random numbers to plot the finances, populations and fortunes of your major players, and make up the story from those.

If not that, wars at least could be randomized. “State A is bigger, so let’s say 1 to 4 means they win a battle, and 5 or 6 mean State B wins. There are three sectors to the war, the first to get three wins in one means that sector goes to the victor. When two sectors are won, the war ends on a final roll of dice, and the victor keeps his spoils. Add narrative to make this make sense!”

(Mind you, randomizing wars like this would better fit a past history. Who knows how horrible future wars would be?)

* * *

And those are my “In English” ideas, off the top of my head.

My “In Finnish” ideas are mostly tomfoolery around the university: flesh-eating professors and prehistories of the place and something at the physics department gone terribly and hilariously wrong; and beyond that the (mis)adventures of students or student-like creatures in a world of surreal bad fortune. (Those were what my previous NaNoWriMo novels were.)

### Not missing; just writing

November 2, 2011

It’s the first of November; that is, it is National Novel Writing Month season once again. Which is my excuse, if posts are spaced out a little bit. (The link is to Wikipedia, because the NNWM page is swamped every first of November.)

This is what I’m writing —

* * *

This is a story that begins with one of the protagonists waking up god.

Not as in, kicking one awake, but waking up and noticing his bedsheet has turned into a Shroud of Turin, and his tapwater into wine. He’s not all-powerful, not all-knowing, and not all-good (because what would be the fun in that?) — what he is, is confused, scared and on the run. (What from? Well, the police and Other Gods for starters. Just for starters.)

The main peculiarity of this novel is that it is not a novel of mysterious things happening for no reason except ooh shiny religion metaphor thingies; it is not an allegory of anything, or an insightful examination of spirituality. (The author knows some of his limitations.) Above all else, it is not a story where a materialistic secular person discovers the love of god and the sound of gospel and makes a leap of faith off the cliff of reality into the devouring blind mists of superstition and all you need-a have is have faith.

Atheists like me don’t write stories like that.

This one is a much weirder story, an adventure story, a story of logic and confusion.

* * *

— and yes, given that I have opinions, I’m conscious of the risk of producing 50 000 words of god-bashing, but trust me; I know the plot, and sort of know the characters I’m going to involve in it, and I’ve designed it and them to not be conductive to something like “I don’t like religion” times twenty-five. I’ve no interest in kicking straw men, and because my beef is with the idea(s) of religion and not religious people, I’m not going to go tilting at them as villains either. There’s no fun in that.

And yeah, this is going to be either a silly trainwreck, or… or a silly, entertaining trainwreck of a novel. I’ll tell you how it goes.

(PS. It’s in English, too! Variety, spice out life, etc. etc., the possibility of sucky updates of novelistic installments for forever, later! 3500 words done today, so far; will go eat now. Brain hurt by many big word.)

### Victory 2009

November 26, 2009

That is to say:

(Well, 23 days and 51 177 words, to be exact. Also a donation of \$25.)

The monstrous product of mine was fun to write; and that was what I went in for. Now, since the thing’s in Finnish, it would not make much sense to share a chapter here — but since I’m in a jubilatory mood, I’ll throw a chapter at ya anyway. It’s the first one of the novel, and it is quite self-contained.

Since I’m feeling all flushed with some strange, unholy energy (Coca-Cola?), I put the same bit, roughly and quickly and almost sentence-for-sentence translated, after that. (Sentence-for-sentence is my excuse for the choppiness of the English version.)

So, feast your eyes on the weirdness that is the Finnish language: like backwards Latin with ten times the grammar! (more…)

### Godplaying

November 25, 2009

I’ve often heard it said it’s not OK for men to play God — to make new life and then abuse and kill it according to their whim, or to rule as they want over others without checks or balances or any law beyond their own whims and prejudices.

If it’s not OK for men to play God, why’s it OK for God to play God?

Just a thought.

* * *

Also, in a different sort of godplaying, finished the NaNoWriMo novel on Monday; or well, finished and finished — still have some 3000 words or so to plug in here and there, but am over the 50 000-word limit, and have written the “FIN” to the end of the file. (TeXnicCenter and MiKTeX is what I use; what ends with “doc” just means it needs doctoring into some better format.)

Feelin’ a little bit tired after that; but an average of 2100 words per day for 23 days is supposed to tire; an additional couple of hours staring at the screen (mercifully not usually blank) each day takes its toll.

Oh, and how the novel turned out? Well, it began with one plot; then lost it; then gathered clues and scenes and eerie intimations for 20 000 words; and then during the last 10 000 or so finally decided what it was all about. There’s going to be a lot of editing; won’t do to introduce characters and mysteries if you’re not going to explain them in the end.

Oh, the plot. Right. Well, in the most compact and bloodless way it turned out to be this: A graduate student discovers what happens when a “cult” of mathematics professors deludes itself thinking that their weird ritual-science pentagram-derived powers are proof for the existence of gods and souls. In Lovecraftian terms what they discover isn’t even Azathoth; but assigning names to it becomes the seed of their eventual downfall. Knew all the while it was a horror story; didn’t discover until the ending that it was a revenge story, too.

(“So, literary licence much?” — “Well, wrote in black-robed maths professors chanting ‘Euler Euler Euler’ in nameless cellars as something terrible rises out of the pentagram.” — “Okay.”)

### Quote for today 25

November 19, 2009

Yes, some of my initial plans have changed along the way. If they hadn’t, I would just be connecting the dots, and that would drive me mad. Some writers are architects and some are gardeners, and I am in the second camp. The tale takes on a life of its own in the writing.

— George R. R. Martin, author of the Song of Ice and Fire (interview)

Meanwhile, and concerning an immensely inferior writer, my NaNoWriMo novel is at 42 030/50 000 words after 19/30 days of writing, and while for the first 10 000 words I was an architect, rapidly after that my characters started doing unexpected things, and I slipped into gardening, then trying to whack the tentacle-shoots and corpse-flowers into some kind of an order when they gained a twisted half-life of their own — oh, and have I mentioned that reading a lot of and about Lovecraft while writing this has had an effect on it?

Well, the changes escalated: my original backstory idea became something the story danced around and then stomped on, and it became just a (so far) quite unimportant detail of the whole. Then a tertiary character introduced on a whim to mouth a few lines of exposition suddenly revealed herself as the chief antagonist, conspirator and plot-mover of the thing. Then a secondary character whose purpose was mostly to be “Obnoxious Neighbor #1″ went and did a Suicide by Protagonist; and my protagonist spent uncomfortable (to himself, to writer, to any reader, too) lengths wondering whether he’s a) caught in some really sick shit, b) going insane, or c) involved in a Candid Camera show with a Licence to Kill. (Hint: it’s the first one. It would be cheap to write 50 000 words of something and then say it was all a moon dream. But the c-alternative — well, maybe I should some day try to cook something like Truman Show meets Running Man meets… hapless grad students in a world of horror!)

Some things fall into place quite nicely if you just avoid resolving them until there’s only one choice left; for an example…

Oh, shoot. I just had an epiphany.

Writing is really nice when it clicks; the prose you’re going through is not quite what you find in a published book, but you’re the first one to see it, and that’s veddy nice. (It’s a Choose Your Own Story for people with too much free time; that’s what amateur novelling is.)

Namely I was just going to say that “if you just avoid resolving the fate of a certain character that disappeared a few weeks before the point the telling of the story began, you will find she’s the only one that can be present and active in a certain looming situation ahead”, and I was going to say after that that “Worrisomely, in my troublemaking not-quite-Satanist cabal of evil mathematics professors — and isn’t that a great plot device? — I have one that may or may not be a part of it, and while my protagonist doesn’t know, I don’t know yet, either”.

Then it clicked that the maybe-sinister-professor was a much better fit for the spot and persona of the conflict-presenter. Now and supposing I write it that way all fits, all fits, except that I still have that missing character. (Well, she will no doubt turn up, or be dug up, or claw her way up, before the end.)

This is probably not the best way to write — but as it is all (primarily) for my own masturbatory pleasure, it works nicely.

And this has been your update on das Unaussprechliche Finnische Buch for today.

### Why, nothing here today

November 13, 2009

Quite absorbed in NaNoWriMo work today. (Oh, academic work too. Quite so. Yes, yes. Hello advisor.)

(“Hello advisor”? Can’t shake the unholy union of “Hello Kitty” and “Hello sailor!” that evoked. Good thing he doesn’t read this.)

Anyway, while I’m novelling, you can go read Head Trip, a webcomic I discovered a few days ago; the link is to one strip I found particularly enjoyable and easy to relate to. Any skeptic would.

(And the discovery of that comic illustrates my optimistic theory that the Internet is a sieve — much of the content is crap, that is true, but the less valuable things get sloughed away when you shake that thing. And yecch, that wasn’t the most nice-image-evoking phrase ever written, but something of the atmosphere of my double-weird NaNoWriMo story lingers. Weird once for seeking to imitate some aspects of Lovecraft; weird twice for being like the stuff I spew here; see “First post” for an example.)

And now I’m off to watch some Mock the Week courtesy of Youtube, then to read a new volume of the Finnish translation of Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&!, and I actually didn’t typo there, it’s spelled that way. Have diverse interests, y’all.

(Meanwhile, I’ll rest easily on the horns of “Am I propagating awareness of things I enjoy and think others would as well, or am I being a show-off? And, more important than that, what am I appearing to be? And why am I writing this when I actually don’t much care about these matters — am I again mentioning an interesting consideration, or again showing off? Curse you, Douglas Hofstadter!”)

### Snowing

November 10, 2009

It’s a good evening round here; it’s dropping light, big snowflakes in great quantities, and thanks to shadows cast by the streetlights above it seems like an equal silent storm, though black and horizontal, not vertical, is sweeping under your wheels.

Don’t have the skill to capture that effect, though, so here’s just a snowy yard.

Also, NaNoWriMo is at 22 510/50 000 words after 9 out of 30 days of writing — all’s well, except for some reason half my cast suddenly decided that instead of “Grudge in a University” the novel should instead be about “Black-robed math professors chanting ‘Euler Euler Euler'” — oh dear. (Well, my protagonist isn’t very happy about it either. He didn’t take seeing his thesis advisor occupying one tip of a floor-drawn pentagram very well. I think the next chapter will have some gibbering in it.)

### Those interesting moments

November 3, 2009

I suppose being a judge is not entirely dull if you get to write sentences like this:

Among the terms or epithets that have been held (all in the cases we’ve cited) to be incapable of defaming because they are mere hyperbole rather than falsifiable assertions of discreditable fact are “scab,” “traitor,” “amoral,” “scam,” “fake,” “phony,” “a snake-oil job,” “he’s dealing with half a deck,” and “lazy, stupid, crap-shooting, chicken-stealing idiot.”

That’s from a judgment against a crank — in Wisconsin anyway — who sued Underwood Dudley for calling him that. Oh, and as a hint — Dudley’s books about eccentric mathematics are good reads; abominably expensive, but good reads. Consult your local university library.

Then again, doctors have interesting moments in the lives, too:

PURPOSE: The aim of this study is to describe 17 cases of colorectal foreign bodies introduced during sexual activity, gathered by the authors over the past twenty years (1980-2000), and to establish diagnostic and therapeutic guidelines for these situations.

And mathematics-people? Well, this very week I came across a mention of a neat little test for divisibility by seven that I hadn’t heard before, so there. (Namely, the $n$-digit number $a_na_{n-1}\cdots a_1a_0$ is divisible by seven if and only if the difference $a_na_{n-1}\cdots a_1 - 2a_0$ is a number divisible by seven.)

Oh, NaNoWriMo at 8465/50 000 after 3/30 days. Not bad.