Sunday, September 12, 2021

Aronnax, completed

I just finished writing the twelfth and final chapter Aronnax.

I’ve been working on this since the end of July, and for the first six chapters, it was one chapter a week. This week, I was on vacation, so starting on Tuesday, I wrote every day. They were never overly long chapters. The complete story is somewhere around 12k (actually 13,440, plus notes I intend to include in a future print edition) words, generously  considered a novelette, very generously a novella (I’ve published a whole string of novellas in the past five years, I should know). Not so long.

But I’m pretty happy with it.

As with a few other stories I’ve done over the years, each chapter is from a different perspective. Most of them deliberately cut off the narrative to keep the ending a secret, but the thrust of this one thing, Captain Nemo’s submarine the Nautilus, as a catalyst in disparate lives, remains at the heart of the story, I hope in effective ways. The idea, as with all the good stories, is to tell something about the human condition.

Hopefully something worthwhile.

The chapter will populate later today at Kindle Vella, and that’ll be that. I haven’t decided if I will tackle another project on the platform, a longer one (it wasn’t the original intention for Aronnax to be twelve chapters, but that ended up feeling like its natural shape), as apart from the story I’ve been writing once a month every month this year (I will have to play catch-up next weekend as I took up last month’s slot with Aronnax) I really haven’t told a full-length story in ages, and I have yet to find the courage to begin tackling Collider (maybe next month’s week-long vacation!). 

But it always feels nice to work on a story, and to finish it. With this one the original goal was to retell Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea without Nemo, or Nemo minimized, or Nemo contextualized. I think I accomplished that.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Aronnax (2.0)

 About a month ago, I was completing a project and attempting to publish it via Amazon's KDP when I hit the unexpected snag of Kindle needing to know who the translator was for the edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea I had transcribed from.  The idea of the project wasn't a complete transcription, although it had originally been intended to be a partial one, and the rest of the story completely rewritten or cherrypicked, as I had determined, when I read the book five years earlier, that I liked the parts without Captain Nemo best.

Well, I didn't know the translator, and Kindle didn't like that, so the book was left unpublished.  I had transcribed only to the point Pierre Aronnax and company discover the Nautilus, and as yet are unaware of its true nature, much less its chief occupant.  I'm not sure Jules Verne really nailed the shape of Nemo's role, but I loved the opening act as the mystery of the Nautilus unfolds, a kind of lost coda to the great age of maritime exploration last represented by Moby-Dick, so that's what I chose to feature in my version, and that alone.

Then I decided to tackle the idea from a different vantage point.  Kindle has recently launched Vella, a serialized storytelling venture, and that's one thing I can always make time for, so last week I launched a revised version that features entirely original writing, a parallel narrative recapping the Verne tale and a modern sequel in which a descendant of Aronnax, a deteriorating Nautilus resting in his backyard, decides to undertake one last adventure.

I don't know how often I'll be plugging away at this, maybe once a week or so, which is the pace, at two weeks, I have set, but you can keep up with the results here.  I also don't know how long it'll be, and I haven't attempted to prepare a full outline.  At times such things can feel like both blessing and curse, as I have discovered with other current projects.  I know the shape of it, thanks in part to half being drawn from existing material, as well as the probable conclusion to the original material.  

Should be interesting.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

A Journal of the Pandemic #27

 You'd have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the Delta variant currently driving the pandemic era, and the increased push to get vaccinations widespread.

Things are definitively returning to normal.  The biggest complaints now are that jobs aren't being filled because people don't want to work, with the common explanation that they're getting too much money with unemployment benefits to bother with earning a paycheck.  Businesses are putting signs up explaining curtailed operations, offering huge signing bonuses...

Yeah, the pandemic is still happening.  At work, a slew of (vaccinated) coworkers have been wiped out recently, either because they actually caught COVID-19 or were exposed to those who did, and ended up taking time out either to get diagnosed or because it was confirmed. 

Combined with the hurricane that whipped through the region early in the month, I've been plagued by considerable uncertainty.  I had a project that ended up aborted because I ran into rights issues, but have since revamped it (and will talk more about that later), and others that I haven't been working on virtually at all, stuck in a holding pattern, and have struggled with feelings of inadequacy.  

On the other hand, the family front seems to be getting better, far better than it seemed at the start of the year, although now of course my dad is doubling down on his pandemic thoughts and even I am finding it hard to listen to it now.  But the calls continue, mostly every Sunday, and that means another tomorrow, regardless of how conversation flows.

I finally reconciled myself with all the pandemic spending I was doing, and am actively taking measures to be fiscally responsible again.  Strange to say, but for me that's how things played out.  I am well aware, again, how fortunate I've been in all this.  I'm grateful all over again that I had medical coverage two falls ago when I needed it for emergency optometrist visits, which I used again a few weeks ago, and have once again updated my contacts prescriptions after yet another emergency when one of the legs on my glasses inexplicably, randomly and suddenly broke off.  (I successfully glued it back on!  But have made the decision to switch back to regular contacts use, after depending on the glasses since I had those updated, two falls ago.)  

Life is strange; life continues.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Farewell to the Warrior

The exact timing of her passing is unclear. My sister and her family headed out late Thursday night and didn’t return home until late Sunday. They found her dead.

Boo showed up in my life in late 2004, and by the next year was already turning up in my fiction. I have this long series of stories that rewrite the same basic premise involving a boy and a dog. I inserted her into the second version, which can be found in Monorama, the collection I put out when I started this blog in 2012. And this way and that, she would leave a trail in my work just as surely as she shed copious amounts of her white fur.

The last time she appeared was actually last year’s George & Gracie, where she makes a random cameo, straddling the real and dream worlds.

She had been losing worrisome amounts of weight over the past year. The problem was curtailed once, but it resurfaced. She was indeed an old kitty, but when I last lived with her two years ago she was still doing quite well. She didn’t quite have her old spring, but she was very much herself. At that point she would regularly cuddle beside me. She was never really a lap kind of cat, but she always knew how to have her people time. Sometimes she would demand affection. I guess maybe that will be one of my happiest memories.

Well, pretty much all of my time with her. She was the best. She’ll always be with me, and she will always be greatly missed.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

A Journal of the Pandemic #26

 So, about an hour ago now, I got my second shot.  

I would've gotten done with this slightly sooner, I really would have.  I admit I hesitated when the shot was being offered at work earlier this year, but by the time I had second thoughts, the machine had ground in other directions, and sort of left me behind.  So I finally took matters into my own hands, and got it done with CVS.

Things are very slowly returning to a sense of normal.  At least for me, my tiny corner of the world.  Even the neighborhood library is technically open again, although for some reason all its lounging chairs went missing, or something.  I'll try again soon to see where that situation's at, but this one's a big deal because it was one of the last things to hammer down the lockdowns last year, and it was the singular change to my pre-pandemic routines, altering the regular course of my weekend activities (yes, going to the library; a regular social animal I yam).

At the box office, A Quiet Place Part II was the first domestic release to cross the hundred million mark in the pandemic era.  Godzilla vs. Kong came within a tiny, tiny hair of doing it first, but having one film, let alone two, at or near that mark had been impossible to conceive until this summer.  The major releases that tested the waters before this point didn't even come close.

UPDATE: I guess they let Godzilla/Kong back in theaters to cross the finish line. I checked in with Box Office Mojo a moment ago. So officially two!

People technically don't need to wear masks all the time anymore.  At work, we do, because there are tiny babies ("tiny" apparently the word of the day), who aren't eligible for the vaccine, so we've got to maintain the status.  I kind of like wearing my collection of mustache masks.  I imagine it's become a signature.  Anyway.

Quietly floated the idea of resuming the possibility of a family reunion with the siblings, for next year, but no one picked up on it.  There will need a lot of planning, completely different from the negotiations that resulted in the one that was cancelled last year.  Part of this was made easier a few months ago, when my sister and her family transplanted to New Jersey, which is a reasonable car trip's distance from Maine, which they're demonstrating on Thursday, so our dad can finally meet his new grandson.

And life goes on.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Aronnax, Space Colony Bactria

Haven’t actually written about what I’ve been busy working on, so here’s a quick update:

Aronnax is an interesting project I’ve been meaning to do for some time, but only just gotten around to starting. It’s an edited version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I think there’s a really interesting story in there, but it’s been buried for years under a lot of forgettable Nemo material. I know this sounds crazy, as Nemo is literally the reason anyone cares about the book. Well, what can I say? Sounds crazy. Probably is crazy. 

Space Colony Bactria is my latest comics scripting project. It’s an entirely original idea (…somewhat, ah, riffing in Star Wars), and so it’ll be the most ambitious one I’ve tackled yet, and longest. At the moment I’m plotting the whole thing out.

And as I’ve been doing for a quarter century, I’m still working toward writing Collider. In a few months I will probably have a different set of free time to play with. I’ve found it difficult to concentrate as I have when tackling book-length manuscripts in the past with the arrangement I have now.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Bizarro Kitty (Sally #4)

Every time I blog about Sally, she ends up doing the opposite of what I just wrote. So I won’t give further updates.


She’s Bizarro Kitty. Bizarro, in Superman lore, has among his many quirks the speech pattern of always saying (as crudely as possible) the opposite of what he means.

Sally is Sally. She’s a stray cat and as such calls her own shots. She comes and goes as she pleases.

I just happen to love it when she’s around.

Listen, and I certainly don’t want to jinx it, but it’s just terrific how she avoided snagging a claw on a winning lottery ticket that ended up at my doorstep. That would’ve been awful!

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