Monday, May 31, 2010

Weekend stuff

Quite a productive long weekend.

1. Reading stuff:

5/29/10 Library Haul

My first act of the weekend on Saturday morning was to run to the library and obtain a goodly stack-o'-books. I forgot to add Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones to the photo pile...oops. But it came home with me, too.

Finished one of the Ralph McInerny mysteries pretty much instantly, skimmed through and read parts of Writing Down the Bones, and just started The Bonesetter's Daughter. It's my first experience with Amy Tan, but I've heard good things. We'll see.

2. Walking stuff:

Summer may have officially started, but lately we've had anything but here in Western Washington: it has been cold and rainy and generally not altogether pleasant. Sunday afternoon the rain slowed to a drizzle, so I grabbed the dog and we went for a nice long jaunt on the trail. It was well worth being out in the damp. There are still spring flowers everywhere, birds were singing, everything smells fresh and green. The streams and rivers running near the trail were all running high, the churning water something to see - and to hear! Fast running water is frightening and enlivening all at once.

Somewhere off in the distance, someone was taking advantage of the damp to do some burning of brush. You could just barely smell the smoke. I had a sudden intense craving for roasted marshmallows - not the carefully toasted golden brown sort, but the charred, wood-smoky variety you can only get around a campfire. When I was little, as one of a big family we typically only got a few marshmallows apiece, to make it fair. To prolong things, I used to burn the outside, peel it off and eat it slowly, burn the next layer and peel that off - until there was nothing left but the gooey middle on the stick. Good times....

We (the dog and I, returning to the present) came back a little footsore and tired, but refreshed. Long walks are good for body, mind and soul.

3. Writing stuff:

I finally finished doing all the scanning and OCR work on the first 100 pages of my '09 NaNoWriMo project, which was all typed on the Olympia SG-1. It only took me six months to buckle down and get it done. For those curious about the technical details, I used the basic / older version of Omnipage that came with my Canon LiDE 90 scanner a few years ago. It does an admirable job, for the most part. My one quibble with it is that it does funky stuff to the font size and other formatting, so I end up copying into the word processor as plain text and doing all formatting there. It takes a little while, but it's easier than fighting Omnipage, and still far quicker than retyping everything. I pretty much have the rough draft of that story finished, except for the second-to-the-last chapter. I'm back to that stage where I have it in a single humongous unwieldy document, and once again I'm seriously frustrated by this stage: I keep losing track of where I put things and what I've edited or not or how I really intended to order this bit and that. And I'm once again wishing I had a nice logical editing program. I've downloaded Liquid Story Binder several times over the years, but it's complex and (to me, anyway) very unintuitive. I've also played with yWriter, but it strikes me as the writing software equivalent to Linux: something for those who enjoy tinkering as well as just writing. I don't want to tinker. I just want something that works. And it has too many options for me. I know you don't have to use them, but they're there, waiting for you, asking for input - all the spaces for character information, point of view, items, other busyness. I also don't like (really, really don't like) that I can't see individual scenes within chapters unless that chapter is in focus. There's no total tree view of everything, except a slightly clunky storyboard. I appreciate the thought behind it, but despite quite a bit of time spent with it, I can't warm up to it.

And then I made the mistake of watching some of the video tutorials for Scrivener. I was practically tearing up at some points - it's so perfectly suited to the way I work and what I want to do: a simple layout where you can divide up your writing into workable chunks, connect them with "index cards" you can shuffle around, add notes and research and pictures that are easily viewable but don't print on the manuscript, and all of it with simple drag-and-drop reorganization available. Oh, and the ability to take snapshots before you start chopping up a scene to rewrite. Brilliant! And that's just scratching the surface. Every feature that was mentioned made sense to me. It's a dream come true. Where have you been all my life, Scrivener?

But of course, there's a catch. It only runs on Mac! Grrrr!

My main computer at this point is an over four-year-old hand-me-down desktop PC, and I'm thinking of selling the netbook - so maybe I can start working on justifying a new system this summer. Or a used system. Buying used electronics kinda scares me, but there are lots of used Macs on Craigslist and such. We'll see. Must...have...Scrivener.

Meanwhile, I started back into producing *more* writing that I'll ultimately need to transcribe and organize. At least they're just short stories. Those don't make me frantic as I try to edit in a standard word processor. I've been primarily writing by hand lately (again), in bagasse composition books with either my Lamy 2000 EF with Noodler's Aircorp Blue-Black ink, or my beat-up Parker 51 with Noodler's Navy ink. I'm drawn to rather conservative ink colors in my old age. They don't draw my attention away from what I'm writing, and they're easy on the eyes over long writing sessions. Both of these also have a waterproof component: important for me, with my tendency to knock beverages over or drip condensation on my work.

4. One more bit of stuff:

Apropos of nothing, here's Halvah attempting camouflage on the new couch where she's really not supposed to be. Not bad, is she? "No, really, I'm just a little round sofa cushion. Nothing to see here!"

Halvah attempting camouflage


James Watterson said...

Wow you are right that program does look amazing. I just took a peek at some of the tutorials as well. It truly looks like a writers program and makes sense in every way.

On a second note you should defiantly consider getting a mac. I love mine and would never use a PC again unless I had to. Macs are amazing and that program is just another reason for you to switch.

Strikethru said...

Scrivener is wonderful. I bought it awhile back and do all of my drafts on it.

Dang, your weekend was quite productive. Makes me feel like a slacker!

It is sort of an obvious remark, but The Joy Luck Club is great. I inexplicably have two copies if you'd like one.

Is TBS sponsoring word verification now? My word verification word was "Conan."

Little Flower Petals said...

James - way to help my willpower there.... No, seriously, I think I'm convinced that my next computer will be a Mac. The only questions are which model and when.

You should download the free Scrivener trial if you haven't already! Lucky you, you don't need additional hardware to give it a shot. As for actually buying it...I was reading on the forums that Scrivener 2.0 (pronounced "two point naught" by the creator - gotta love that) is due out in September if all goes well. Something to bear in mind, I guess!

Strikethru - hm...I should probably take you up on your offer. I'm rather impressed with Bonesetter's Daughter so far. There's a bit of language and some slightly uncomfortable scenarios (I'm overly squeamish about certain things, as I've mentioned in the past), but overall, it's excellent, and there's no denying her mad writing skillz. Hard book to put down. And supposedly, it's not really among her best books.