Saturday, April 06, 2002

We're watching this thing on con men and scams on the Travel Channel, and now I'm convinced that the human race is primarily made up of idiots and the assholes who take advantage of them. Not exactly a new thought for me, but it's simply amazing how despicable people can get when money's involved. The general assumption of people, I think, is that most people are as honest as they themselves are. Liars generally assume that people are out to take advantage of them; honest people assume that they're not - and to keep that assumption, people will ignore the weirdest things. But then people in general like stay in a rut, and you have to get forceful to change their minds about anything.

We watched Changing Rooms earlier, which is the BBC version of TLC's Trading Spaces. Watching that show always gives me the itch to change my surroundings, particularly the use of color. Decoration in general impresses me, since my house is just the result of our pack-rat life.

I'm itching to do something (I don't know what) but probably can't because Dave's still recovering from surgery. My life is dull beyond words at time.

You know, one thing that drives me nuts is when someone has a really spectacular idea for a fic but doesn't have the talent to do it justice. It makes me want to rewrite it myself. Plot's always been a weak point for me - TheBard gave me a magnificent plot to use in my solo Flint fic, and this pleases me - and it's so depressing to see people who have good plots but lousy prose. I read a fic where Buffy came back from the dead (she hasn't explained why yet) and initially thought she was in an alternate universe. She turns out not to be, but I think it's a great idea. She leapt through a portal, after all; what if she went somewhere? So now (with plot in hand!) I have to figure out how the world is different. If nothing else, it gives me a chance to play with UC (unconventional) ships. I'm thinking Willow/Giles to start... not sure what else. Hey, I could bring back Angel. Ah, the possibilities in an AU {evil grin}.

I'm going to go find a pencil now, and sketch this out.

If I were king, people would bring me plots.

Friday, April 05, 2002

My husband can do html tech support on Percoset. He rocks.

I, however, am still not king.
Last night I sat around with Maureen and Christi for hours and talked about fanfic. We submitted a group review for this "In a Heartbeat" fic that was just godawful... OOC doesn't begin to cover it. Anyway, today I got a nasty email from the friend who challenged her to write it saying that it didn't have to be realistic, because it was fiction. {le sigh} Where do people get this idea? I responded to her, explaining about the author - reader agreement (we suspend our disbelief, you make sure that we don't have to hang it by the neck until dead) and how, since in the context of the show and the story, the characters are real people, forcing them to behave otherwise is a betrayal of the characters, the show, and the creators. We as fanfic authors have the responsibility to treat the characters we borrow with the utmost respect, and that involves making sure that they don't do anything they wouldn't otherwise do.

I suppose that's my philosophy of writing. Not even fanfic so much, because you have the responsibility with original characters to make sure they behave within the parameters of the character you created. If you give them a new facet, you have to take into account how it would affect their character otherwise. Christi's taking a stand for heterosexuality in fanfic (because it's so rare). I can see where she's coming from, but I must take a simpler and perhaps more profound stance - a stand for honest characterization. In fanfic, out of character is a cardinal sin, and should be treated as such.

There's another place where I seem to differ from most fic authors that I talk to. "It's just a story" doesn't seem to be in my vocabulary. The friend of the writer told me (after I also explained the concept that review != rave) that "It's just for fun, ya know? It's just a story." Jane told me that the other night about the unbetaed piece she posted with Isabella. "I was just having fun. It's just a story." Why is that become a rallying cry for poor quality? It's your hobby, sure, it's for fun. That's why you do it. And this excuses you from getting a beta reader how? It forgives making characters act totally *other* why? What happened to, "If you're going to do it, do it well?"

Between corresponding with Excitable Teenager and Dave's surgery, I haven't thought about grad school at all today! (Until this moment.)

Still not king, as evidenced by the amount of bad fic still extant.

Thursday, April 04, 2002

One of my theoretical goals for this year is to put up a web page with my fic on it. This requires that I learn HTML. I'm not entirely sure how to go about this... should I buy a book? Take a class? Maybe I should wait for summer, when I have more time. Anyway, I think having a central location for my work would be a good thing, for the millions of people who want to read the B5 fic I wrote under my maiden name. I know they're out there somewhere...somewhere...somewhere... {abruptly stops singing} All two of them.

In good news, I'm up over a page with the 'dark Flint' fic that TheBard requested, and I actually know where I'm going. This is my half of the parallel story I'm writing with Jane - although 'parallel' doesn't really describe it. Tangential? Perpendicular? They start at the same place, and end at the same place, but go entirely different places while they're at it. I have to explain why he's mad at Duke in issue #4 of the new comic. It involves a plot. This is dangerous. (You know, with all the plot-heavy stories I've been working on lately, I'm going to start thinking I can actually write. I've been looking at the MFA in Creative Writing program. Someone should stop me.)

Yeah, half my thoughts in the last few days have involved grad school. Where should I go? Probably here, I'm thinking. Should I actually major in literature, or something else? The reason this is an issue is my irritation with the B.S. found in the field. I read an article by Valerie Traub, and I swear you'd need a chainsaw to cut through her prose and get to the POINT. A ton of the material produced in the field is like this - intimidatingly jargonistic, obtuse, dense - and I have to talk like that to get my point across. Is research in this field something I really want to do? I mean, I love to read, to write, to discourse. I want to teach. I want to be like Jewell Rhodes and Tom Campbell - but I think I'm leaning more towards Jewell than Tom. I'm really enjoying Tom's class, and I can't wait until I'm a docotoral student and can teach classes like that, but... well, I'd be a better poetry teacher than the gal I had last semester (whose name escapes me at the moment). I don't consider myself a poet, though, and the bulk of my work at this point has been in other peoples' playgrounds. Then again, I'd hardly be the first person to produce a fanfic-related thesis. Maybe I should look into media studies as a minor - I want to write that paper on Buffy and the journey of the Heroine (as distinct from the Hero).

If I were king, I wouldn't have to think about grad school.

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Between one thing and another, I'm getting increasingly fed up with SAs (system administrators). The ones I've been exposed to are uncommunicative and arrogant, at best, and grossly incompetent at worst. The SA I'm stuck dealing with at work is also condescending and LIED to my boss. I've been facilitating the move from ASU's email servers to Aletia's, and our SA George has been nothing if not... well, completely unhelpful. Plus irritating as hell. Considering that the whole switching services thing was their idea (part of ABOR's continuing attempts to get rid of us, their redheaded stepchild), I'm disgusted as to what a pain in the ass it's been...

And now the SA's NIck has to deal with are being generally incompetent. On top of that, they're committing Mortal Sin #1 in the Book of Nick (go to hell, go directly to hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200): Not Listening to Him. Given that a failure to listen was the reason he left the CASFS board, I might feel pity for them. If they weren't SAs and on my Shit List as a result of that, anyway. Of course, the moron squad doesn't have to listen to him screaming. We do. Yeah, Mike?

In mostly-good news, the yard people have mostly finished the yard. It looks really stark, but at least there are no more weeds. And, (this is very good news) the mature pecan in front of Nick's window isn't dead after all. There are leaf buds on it. Very much of the good.

I'm thinking about running for Faithful Lackey next year. Leadership roles are a good thing, and I kinda have to start thinking about stuff like that, since grad schools do to. Besides, I've been involved with THEM for nearly eight years. (Wow.)

Gods, I need more hours in my day.

Yeah, and if I were king, I'd fillet some SA arse.

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Have you ever had a Distant Goal and then discovered between one minute and the next that it's not nearly as distant as you thought it was? It's a giddy, heady feeling, let me tell you.

I'm trying to figure out what I need to take next semester, so I sat down with my checksheet and my DARS (for the uninitiated, that's a comparison of the degree requirements against my transcript) and figured out that I'm six classes short of my degree. Six. Which means that if I take the two classes I plan to this summer, I could easily graduate in *December.* Of THIS YEAR. With my BACHELOR'S DEGREE. Go me! I'm excited. I figured I had a good year and a half to go, and suddenly I could be eight months away? Wow. When did that happen?

What I think I'm going to actually do, however, is declare a minor - I'm thinking Women's Studies - and take a year. If nothing else, it gives me more time to think about grad school, something to which I had given exactly NO thought beyond "want to." Another year also gives us more time to get in a better financial situation, and hopefully the economy time to improve further, so I can consider grad school somewhere besides ASU. Not that I have anything against ASU, but I'd just like to move... elsewhere. Somewhere where it's not so damned hot.

Besides, it also means Patrick and I both graduate in '03, which is kind of nifty in and of itself.

Still not king, but it seems not to matter so much at the moment.
I actually went and looked at my blog, live and in pixel, and discovered that, under the title, it has "my funny motto." I imagine you're supposed to edit this so it actually HAS something there. Being me, twisted mind and all, find "my funny motto" inherently amusing. It reminds me of that song, "My Funny Valentine." So until it stops amusing me, I'm leaving it there.

Why is it that so many fic writers, however bad, are encouraged? My friend Jane collaborated with Isabella (names have been changed to protect the guilty) and posted a fic unbetaed to the relevant list. (For the record, I'm on probably a dozen fic lists. Whee!) Yeah, I post unbetaed work. Because I *can*. Most of my stuff is short, and my paranoid nature and general handle on the English language makes it so there are a minimum of mistakes when I do so. Most people, however, can't. And I'm having a problem walking the line with Jane between "yes, you can write" and "no, you can't post unbetaed work. Damn it, you don't recognize it when you write sentence fragments!" Having betaed her work, I'm also becoming frustrated with fixing the same mistakes over and over again. She CAN write. When she tries, she can even write well. But lately she's been slipping. SHE doesn't think so, because everybody on the list posts cheerleader feedback! I can't tell her it sucks, because it makes me look like the bad guy. So I say nothing. Except, when she gives me something to beta, "do it again." Fragile egos, sigh. I need to find someone to beta for who actually understands that I only point out the stuff that sucks and the stuff that's really good. If I don't say anything about it, it's okay. (I personally don't accept "okay." But - and I realize how arrogant it sounds as I say it - not everyone has my talent. Anyway, my friend Jane - when she writes with me, her writing improves. I'm good, and I don't tolerate crap. (Harlan Ellison: You're writing crap. STOP WRITING CRAP!) Isabella, however, needs more work (on the basic-English-sentence level) than Jane. So, what with one thing and another, we haven't been working together much lately. To say her writing has suffered... well. Damn, I need an idea that I can collaborate with her on, otherwise the parallel piece we're writing is going to... um... not work.

Dinner time.

Still not king, however.
All right, so I'm trying the blog thing. I've ranted before about how blogs bug me, but I think all in all, it'll be nice to have a place to occasionally vent or at least make the comments that ramble through my head at all hours of the day or night. What I WILL avoid, however, is the thing that really bugs me about blogs - the referential/responsive nature of many of them. I don't read blogs. I'm not that interested in the inner workings of other people, for the most part. So I promise the blog won't be full of references to other people's blogs. I'm of the opinion that if you want to reply to somebody's blog, send them an email. But that's me.

Why are children going door-to-door assuming that I'm the slightest bit interested in seeing that they go to college? We just had a kid come to the door selling the paper, and he said that one could buy a subscription for a school, church, or charity because he's trying to earn a thousand-dollar college fund. And I care because...? And what's up with the sell-for-college-fund thing anyway? When I was a kid, I went door-to-door selling stuff for charitable organizations (Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, school groups, church). It sure as hell wasn't about any kind of personal profit. Now you get kids selling newspapers for college but you have to go to grocery stores to buy Girl Scout cookies. Something fundamentally wrong about that, I think...

In good news, I've been getting a lot of positive feedback about "Valediction," my little Willow/Xander ficlet, including requests to archive it at the Willow writing zone web page Near Her Always and Xander-Shaped Friend, an invitation-only archive site. Go me. It feels good to get all this positive response, but odd, considering that I wrote the piece in about an hour. It popped into my head one night just before I went to bed (yes, that's why Willow's brushing her hair), I banged it out the next night and posted it unbeta'd, and wham, raves.

Lately I've been ambushed by unusual (and unconventional, natch) ideas. "Valediction" is actually a good example of the way my mind's been working lately. Two nights ago an idea for a Willow/Giles (of all people) idea came to me... and I've NEVER had Giles in my head before. It's weird, but in a good way. And then this morning, I got the idea for an Angel/Spike/Buffy piece, which is actually being rather technique-driven. They're all having the same dream, so it's being very parallel - the same thing being told from three different perspectives, in fits and starts. I'm not sure where I'm going with it, but it promises to be fun to try.

I've been working with technique a lot lately - for some reason, the Buffyverse lends itself to techniquing. "There All Along" is first-person, present tense, switching perspectives. "Angels of the Silences" is jumping in a fairly organized fashion. The still untitled Spike/Dawn friendship piece actually has a PLOT. (Everyone gasp in shock, I know.)

The stuff I WANT to write, though, doesn't seem to want to come. I had a request from The Bard, whose writing I admire, to write a dark Flint piece, and it's just not coming. Problem is, I don't know where I'm going. So I'm thinking about taking Intro to Creative Writing - fiction next semester. The poetry version of that class did really good things to my poetry, but I don't *feel* like a poet. I'm more like Guy Gavriel Kay (with less talent), weaving in prose. I'm just not bohemian enough to be a poet, maybe. The "Angel saves Spike" piece is stalling too. I *do* know where I want to go, I just haven't been able to get there yet. (The fifth sentence in this paragraph almost contributed to the verbification of the language - it originally read "I don't feel like I poet." To poet... that's almost a neat idea. I almost left it that way. Almost.)

All right, I think this is enough for a start. Besides, I want to take a nap.