Monday, 8 October 2012


Hang on. The supermarket was brunette, you wonder…
   Why, it seems like only the other day when a stunning brunette blew me a kiss in the supermarket. Well, it was. I’ve been mass-blogging. With a year of blogging on the horizon, I went back and devoured my blog to see how I’d been doing over that year.
   Just fine. All the repeated themes were dropped in according to plan. Regular readers know my catchphrases, now. Armed with the knowledge I ploughed through new blog after new blog, constructing more themes and leaving themeless sections for random musing – itself, a bit of a theme.
   It’s been weeks (just the other day) since I regaled my readers with the non-story of the brunette who non-blew me a non-kiss. How long before I experience another brunette supermarket incident? Why, mere hours Jeeves.
   I am shopping. A stunning brunette waves energetically at me and smiles a smile that lights up the supermarket. There is no need to look behind me to see if she’s waving at someone else. Miming ME? to query whether I am being waved at isn’t necessary.
   For I know this brunette, this time. I must be careful in identifying people on the blog. This woman would be flattered by the descriptor of stunning. She may feature in my fiction, in an anecdote that I’ll work up into a scene. Caution is advised when it comes to revealing your sources.
   Our paths don’t quite cross. I’m sweeping one way. She’s heading the other way. I find the energy to wave back. Yes, I even crack a smile. Curmudgeons are not known for this. I must curtail non-curmudgeonly activity. After all, I have a lack of reputation to live down to.
   I catch glimpses of her as we shop, foraging from aisle to aisle. How would I describe her in a story? Well, I’d say she once XXX X XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX XX XXXXXX XXXXX, XX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXX XXX X XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX. XXX XXXX XXXX XXX X XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXX. Which was funny as XXXX.
   Readers, fear not. I had to check every X to see that everything tallied with what I was thinking in my tiny mind. Tedious? Yes. Will I festoon my writing with a forest of X-words? As I said, fear not. Hmm. Quite a few large words in there. What could I have been writing about?
   Doesn’t matter. Our paths uncrossed. I found her suddenly standing behind me, struggling with the vagaries of the self-service non-service machine. She speaks, and I pay close attention to her voice. Which sets me thinking about something I do as a writer.
   I make a point of replicating human speech-patterns on the page. Well, I used to think of it as the printed page, with ink and everything. I also generate non-human speech-patterns on the page. There are a few tricks to that, of course.
   Non-human speech. Ah, we’re in the realm of those much-abused terms, science fiction and fantasy. Where robots and Serpent-Men, and robots belonging to Serpent-Men, wander freely. My advice in fabricating non-human speech is to avoid going all bzzkrktshlurpshlurpkachung on your readers. I speak from experience.
   Surely you type, you say.
   No, I’m reading this aloud as I type. So I speak from experience. The battle to replicate human speech is a separate issue. How far down the path of dialect do you travel? Some tell you not to barge-pole that problem. I say, get stuck in. See how you fare. I was thinking this in listening to the brunette’s voice. How would I replicate those tones, in Times New Roman?
   *When Serpent-Men speak, they do so inside asterisks.*
   My slithery version of direct speech for all sorts of creatures and machines, across many stories.

WARNING. My blog was interrupted by sleep. A pesky activity designed to recharge the batteries. Aside from blogging, I bundle my blogs into collected editions. Throwing free blogs into short story collections is a way of keeping the blog running.
   Last night, I found myself blogging away in this file. I stopped to cross-ref with other blog entries. A few entries had to be copied over to the collected edition. I was sucked into a mire of formatting, editing, and general tomfoolery.
   For fifteen minutes, I worked my way back and forth through files. Updating text. Duplicating material. Staring at the screen. Midnight came and went. I was, to use a technical term, frazzled. Couldn’t make sense of the page before me.
   So I hit the checker for wordage. My wordage in a particular file wasn’t as wordy as expected. A good 500 words had vanished from the tally. Something wasn’t right. I couldn’t follow the meaning. There was no meaning. I was just about asleep staring at my work.
   After struggling with the concept of concepts, of things, I realised that I had to take a break from the machine and rest a little while. Seeing the time, I decided that should be a long while. What had I done? Hard to say. The cold light of day would solve all the problems I’d not quite faced.
   Morning. Shopping. A bit of exercise, trudging across the map to reach shops. On the way there, I don’t encounter a stunning brunette. Well, I do. But I don’t. This one has green hair, automatically reminding me of a character with green hair.
   Who is she? Doesn’t matter. That’s for a later book. Trust me. The story is in safe hands. Those who read Neon Gods Brought Down by Swords would be hard-pressed to pick her out – but she is there, somewhere.
   Refreshed, motivated, resupplied, I return to my office. I tackle the problems I had the night before. It takes a few seconds to see what I’ve done, and about a minute to trace the complex trail of editing events that led to the problem of the misplaced text. The fix is in.
   And the fix is worth mentioning. In abstract terms. Take breaks from writing. Have a drink. If you are writing at home, fix that annoying domestic problem you’ve promised yourself you will tackle one day. Put the hours in at your desk, but try not to fall asleep at your desk.
   I sailed close to the wind last night. For some reason, the whole blogging thing gripped me. Because I mass-blog, then automate the results, I can go off and do the actual storytelling without being caught up in a relentless blogging grind.
   Last night, I worked my way through to the November blog post that ends with a celebration, of sorts, of the fact that I don’t have to chop a fellow-author’s head off. I’m talking about a weekly eighteen-blog cycle that I’m finishing a few days before the first in that series hits the internet.
   Do I want to write that far ahead? I can always unplug a blog to make space for something else, if I have news. Yes, I do want to write that far ahead. No, I don’t want to write that late into the night. I have, in the dim and distant, spent the whole night writing. Not something I recommend.
   Occasionally, the amount of text you must type will fall into conflict with the minutes you have left before a crucial event occurs. Too bad. Happens. Exceed your limits for a short span. Don’t burn the reflexes, zap the synapses, or lay waste to your reserves over nothing. Hell, if you have to, do so. But do so for something.
   Last night, I had to be sure of the details. I wasn’t. So I quit for the night, though the night had quit to make way for the next day. I should write about hijacking blog posts. A telephone call interrupted one blog and generated material for another. I came out ahead on that score.
   Sauce fell into my computer keyboard, and hijacked another blog post. In this entry, I was going to write about replicating human speech-patterns and dealing with the depiction of non-human patterns too. But I had to go to bed.
   Zombified, fritzed and frazzled, I was no use to…
   I diverted there, to check on zombified. Should the word have an extra e in it? Zombiefied. The answer, based on ease-of-reading alone, is NO. Though being zombified, I was zombielike. I’m inclined to suppose the zombifying process is zombefaction. Have I just coined a word? Oh dear, I hope not. That rapscallious activity can get out of hand.
   This blog entry should have another title. I started with the brunette waving at me in the supermarket. But I veered into talk of rest. And, inevitably, I brought the conversation around to zombies. How do I feel today? Rested. Unzombied. And close to the end of this blog post.
   Your writing routine isn’t my writing routine. That’s irrelevant. Every routine must include a break from routine to qualify as a routine. I believe you shouldn’t be able to tell how a story is written, based on the end-result. Going by what I was doing last night, I can say without fear of contradiction that the blog post I edited was one edited by a zombie.
   The rest of the time, when I’ve had time to rest, I edit in Regular and Spearmint. Though you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between them.



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