Facebook is messy; this probably will be too.
I initially signed up for Livejournal because Spike was there, and I loooooove Spike. And it was Keff who encouraged both Kelly and I to get Facebook pages.
I looooove Keff. So you see the trend here.
I decided, at the time, that the page should be a public space. So it has remained. Anyone can friend me and will stay that way unless they spam, flood or set off my Creep Alert. And if it ain’t fit for the whole Interwebs to hear, I don’t say it there. (This has become my policy, speaking very generally, about posting anything, for reasons that should be obvious. But in case they’re not, heeeere’s Scalzi!)
What I put into Facebook is largely generated elsewhere. Status updates, often in the form of Tweets. Pictures from Instagram and Flickr. Lately, pins from Pinterest. Notes that are links to blog entries. I also answer any e-mails that come to me there.
What I take back out of the great blue river of updates, posts, videos, pictures, game invites, event invites, and you name it?
First and no big surprise: with OMG so much fiddling!, I’ve learned to have Facebook forward, to my e-mail, what the Close Friends list is up to. Many of the people I used to read on LJ are Facebookians now. I want to know every little thing going on with my beloved peeps. (We may need a new word for benign stalkage of willing loved ones. Following seems imprecise.)
Second: I like to make ten or twenty Scrabble moves a day and I have a handful of friends who humour me in this. If you play the official Scrabble app on Facebook and you’d like to say you creamed a novelist who can’t learn not to make cool words like LIZARD or VORTEX, even when HA would yield twice the points, this is the one game invite I will notice and accept.
And in most cases I won’t even send you this shot of myself waiting for you to make your next move. That kind of nagging is reserved for poor, dear, much put-upon Liz.
Third: A reasonable percentage of my inlaws and nearly all of my genetic relations are on Facebook. I have wonderful filtered lists that let me check out baby pictures, complaints about the weather in Alberta (land of snow, guys, come to the coast where we have crocuses in January!!) and whatever else they’re thinking about. Which is just damned nice. It’s not as good as being there in May or June. It beats the hell out of being there in February. (Daffodils! Tulips! The first cherry blossoms!)
As for all the other lovely people who aren’t my best buds and family? I look at the updates, if somewhat randomly. I get writing links, political stuff, news items, cat macros, videos of Kristen Bell bawling her eyes out over sloths, announcements to the effect that McKinley has a bear in her backyard tree, David Gerrold’s recent juicing disasters, Hallowe’en costumes and other stuff. If I like them, I even “Like” them.
But Facebook is something I often need to sieve: lots pours through it, and I’m trying to find stuff I connect to personally.
I’m getting all my contributor’s copies (can you still call them that when you’re the sole contrib?) this week… the pretty pretty new version of my book arrived on Wednesday, and after I’d unpacked them in a fit of excitement, I put them all back and declared them ready for their close-up:
A few years ago I decided to try out dictation software for composing things like e-mails.
I had a couple of goals: one was simply to reduce the amount of time spent typing draft, especially for small stuff, the quick messages that keep my life organized. I type a lot, and fast: the wear and tear on my hands is considerable.
Another was to see what kind of stories I would get out of it. I find that my longhand scribbles have a a slightly different writing style, you see, than the fiction I compose directly on the keyboard. I’d played with a dictaphone for awhile, and that yielded some interesting results, notably “The Town on Blighted Sea.” The idea of accessing different parts of my writerbrain through different mechanical processes is alluring and cool.
But, you see, I’m not so keen on transcription.
I didn’t end up liking the software that much. I tried two versions, both of them Sir Clunky Crashalots. The hardware wasn’t much better: I splashed out on a good headset and mic combo and it wasn’t comfortable. And even after I had learned a fair amount, the process of correcting typos was mind-blowingly awkward.
What I wanted, of course, was the Star Trek thing where you talk to the computer and it renders perfectly transcribed, beautifully punctuated prose, preferably of Pulitzer quality. Which was too much to hope for, and I knew it, but I wasn’t ready for how it would substitute wild things for the numerous made-up words that tend to pop up in my fantasy and SF. It also didn’t much care for the fact that every twentieth word out my mouth is fuck.
Perhaps Captains Archer, Kirk and Picard would have encountered the same problem if they shared my fondness for profanity. Maybe there’s a cut scene in Enterprise where Scott Bakula’s going, “I fucking said T’Pol!” and the screen reads “Paul. The Paul. I boxing said the poll. Dude, what do you want from me?”
I am now having a second go at occasionally dictating things, for no better reason than that the Dragon app on the iPod is free, free, free! I had low expectations: I couldn’t figure out how the thing would work, given that the original Dragon was such a enormous memory vampire. What I’ve discovered is that the bulk of the processing happens online. You just dictate little passages and it uploads them to the Internet. Huge dragon servers transcribe them while you sip tea and contemplate your next Grate Thought, then shoot back the results.
This version of Dragon can’t be taught weird ecofantasy words like vitagua (I eventually convinced its predecessor to do this, for the sake of Indigo Springs) and OMG, it’s so cute, it puts a * in the middle of f*cking. What it does do, and what I really enjoy, is it lets me indulge in the verbal equivalent of a freewrite, babbling on in short sentences whenever I have privacy and a Wi-Fi connection
Of course, one has to ask: given that there isn’t word-perfect transcription, is it worth the hassle of correcting the text once you’ve e-mailed it to your hard drive? Sometimes it’s pretty garbled. Here’s a phrase from this particular passage of dictation:
is it worth the Thompson house of correction once you have the text a random Ms. Gilbert Fray
Answer: Maybe. I’m still data-gathering. This might just be another flirtation with a technology I don’t end up using. You gotta kiss a lot of toads, and all that.
Datapoint: when I took a look today at some gibberish I’d recorded for an upcoming guest blog entry, I noticed that it wasn’t that hard to correct the sentences: I remembered whatever it was I had said.
Datapoint: There was also a pretty decent idea wrapped up in all of the out of order paragraphs and peculiar word substitutions. Once I had done little organizing and fixed the most egregious typos, I had the very beginning of what looked like a seriously cool draft.
Will it work for fiction? I don’t know. I do most of my fiction writing well away from anything resembling a Wi-Fi hot spot; I make rather a point of it. And things are going pretty well right now on that front, anyway. I also suspect I’d have to evolve some kind of verbal shorthand to increase comprehension: all my main characters might need to be John Smith or Joan Addams just so I had some faint chance of knowing who the hell was talking at any given time. But I’ve I’ve written a couple good blog posts, and some letters to my grandmother. We’ll see where it goes from there.
Watch the birdie!
This morning dawned clear and unseasonably warm; the sky at six, when I headed off to the cafe to work, was aglimmer with stars. I look for raccoon activity on Cotton and Second now–having had one sighting, I consider this my due–but the bandits failed to show so I puttered off to the cafe.
My first browse through the slenderly-drafted THE RAIN GARDEN is moving quickly and producing a long list of scenes to add, things to research, and stuff to do. I will need to reverse-engineer an outline in the not too distant, if only to figure out where the scenes to be added should go, and to check that the clues to the mystery emerge in a sensible order.
Today I cruised through what looked suspiciously like the book’s thematic heart, and thereby hit upon a working title that is more fitting, at least in the limited sense that it has something to do with the actual story I’m telling. So, for now, the book is morphing into THE AFTERPEOPLE. Since the first book set in this universe has a similar title (THE WINTERGIRLS) this rather hints that the third book, whenever it happens, might end up being THE (something)BOYS.
(If you’re me, these are the sort of thoughts you don’t want to be having when you’re trying to focus on the Book at Hand.)
I think it can be safely argued that THE RAIN GARDEN is a prettier title, and AFTERPEEPS may not be a keeper. But THE RAIN GARDEN didn’t fit, at all… it sounded poetic, and I had a good reason to call the novel something poetic before I sent its ultrasound off to Certain Somebodies for review.
This evening I was briefly tempted to adopt THE RAIN GARDEN moniker for all my unfinished works in progress. This would have the entertaining side effect of confusing the hell out of everyone, probably me included, while perhaps creating a blog tag that spanned multiple books. But hey, that’s what “Works in Progress” and “Process” are for, right?
Besides, I have for years used a perfectly good acronym for such projects: AFNA. This stands for Another Fucking Novel Attempt, and dates back to the days when I was fourteen and couldn’t write my way past the first fifty pages of a full-length book. Even at five characters, it was short enough to use in the days of DOS files. AFNA.DOC. AFNA, incidentally, can be prefaced with other letters: J for Just, Y for Yet, B for Bollocks… well, you get the idea.
Anyway, the book’s out and renamed and blinking groggily. I worked on it until after dawn, and walked home in the sunny morning. After breakfast and a coffee date with my beloved, I caught a walk in the last of the bright, even as the clouds were moving in. I made it to Hastings Park and back before the skies opened. I didn’t get any horse pictures, as I arrived too late for the morning practice laps and too early for the actual races.
In lieu, here’s a RAIN GARDEN picture for you, from the universe of things that are not yet, and might never be: