Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Birthday Game

The Iphone hidden under your pillow buzzes softly, rousing you from sleep. It is 11:30pm – just 30 minutes until your wife’s birthday. She is lying asleep next to you, sleeping soundly and oblivious to the celebratory machinations at work in your mind. You’d best get cracking if you’re going to get things ready. However… sleep does sound awesome….

In a Bed
You are lying in bed, just barely awake. Your wife is sleeping nearby.
An Iphone alarm is vibrating under your pillow, keeping you awake.

>GET PHONE AND HIT SNOOZE
You grab the phone and instead lurch out of bed.

>GO BACK TO BED
You silence the alarm and instead shuffle out into the living room.

>GO BACK TO THE BEDROOM
You stay put and instead remember that you have prep work to do for your wife’s birthday before she wakes up.

>THANK YOU
You’re welcome.

>LOOK

Front Room
You are in a front room and really not awake. You know there is a Kitchen nearby. There is a closet on one wall and a large desk opposite the television area.

>FIND PRESENTS
I don’t see any presents here.

>FIND THE HIDDEN PRESENTS
Oh, those! You dig through the (hiding place redacted) and retrieve the hidden presents from the children.
It is now 25 minutes until your wife’s birthday.

>WRAP PRESENTS
You are too incoherent to attempt that.

>ENTER KITCHEN

Kitchen
You are in a kitchen and really not awake. There are cabinets and stuff. Moonlight gleams off a coffee maker. The Living Room is to the south.

>MAKE A CUP OF COFFEE
Your wife does not drink coffee. Good Lord, do you know this person at all!?! Focus!

>MAKE ***ME*** A CUP OF COFFEE
Ah, sorry mate. Hot coffee bubbles its way down into the pot.

>GET COFFEE
You burn yourself and are now a bit awake.
You are now carrying a coffee stain.

>INV
You are carrying:
a coffee stain
presents

>OPEN CABINET
You reveal a line of mismatched coffee mugs.

>GET COFFEE IN MUG AND DRINK IT.
Done and done.
You are now awake.
It is now 20 minutes until your wife’s birthday.

>SOUTH

Living Room

>WRAP PRESENTS
You lack paper.

>OPEN CLOSET
400 rolls of lovely wrapping paper fall out onto the floor.

>GET PAPER
You select a suitable roll that is almost out. Hopefully Costco has another

50 pack on sale soon…
It is now 15 minutes until your wife’s birthday.

>WRAP PRESENTS
You lack tape.

>LOOK AT DESK
There is an old PC, assorted books, and a supply drawer.

>OPEN SUPPLY DRAWER
You see every office product imaginable inside.

>GET TAPE
Which roll of tape would you like, the green label roll or the purple label roll?

>I DON’T CARE
Wrong answer.

>GREEN
Wrong choice. This isn’t her first birthday, is it?

>GET PURPLE LABEL ROLL OF TAPE
Satin finish gift wrap tape taken.

>WRAP PRESENTS
You wrap up the presents to the best of your ability. The word ‘passable’ comes to mind.
It is now 10 minutes until your wife’s birthday.

>GET CARDS FROM THE KIDS
You don’t see any cards from the kids.

>GET THE HIDDEN CARDS FROM THE KIDS
Oh, those! You dig through the (hiding place redacted) and retrieve the handmade cards from the children.

>LOOK AT DAUGHTER’S CARD

"You are my princess AND my hero!"

“You are my princess AND my hero!”

>PUT A CARD AND GIFT IN DAUGHTER’S ROOM.
You arrange the gifts on her desk.

>LOOK AT SON’S CARD

2-18-14 logcard1 2-18-14 logcard2

>PUT A CARD AND GIFT IN SON’S ROOM.
You arrange the gifts on his dresser.
It is now 5 minutes until your wife’s birthday.

>QUIETLY PUT AWAY PAPER AND TAPE.
Quietly done.
It is now 1 minute until your wife’s birthday.

>GO BACK TO BED
You silently return to bed. The motion causes your wife to stir. She rolls over with a little smile and you place a single kiss on her forehead. “Happy Birthday,” you whisper.

*** you’ve won!!! ***

You scored 100 points out of a possible 100.
Would you like to continue the free form game?

>YES
As you wish.
Ten minutes pass and then a brutal scream tears through the monitor that is sitting on the bathroom counter. It is your son’s voice, crying with the familiar and hated sounds of growing pains.
(You have lost 10 points).

>GET OUT OF BED
You leap out of bed, waking up your wife.
(You have lost 5 points)

>RUN TO SON’S ROOM
You trip over a box of leftover girl scout cookies and wrench your ankle.
(You have lost 15 points)

Son’s Bedroom
You are in a bedroom that is decorated with road signs and car stuff.
Your son is in bed, screaming in pain.
It is very dark in here.
Your wife has now not enjoyed 10 minutes of her birthday.

>TURN ON LIGHT
Your son wails and chokes in response and you turn the lights back down.
(You have lost 10 points)

>SON, WHAT HURTS?
Your son points to his knees and gags while sobbing.

>COMFORT CHILD
You attempt to massage and sooth your child. It doesn’t work.
(You have lost 20 points)
Your wife has now not enjoyed 15 minutes of her birthday.
Your son gags again and screams, “BATHROOM!”

>CARRY CHILD TO BATHROOM
Your wife enters the doorway as you come rushing out. She staggers back from the collision.
(You have lost 35 points.)

>COMFORT CHILD
Son: “I WANT MOMMY!”
Your wife takes the child and heads for a rocking chair.
Your wife has now not enjoyed 30 minutes of her birthday.
(You have lost 5 points, leaving you with zero.)

*** you have lost! ***

PLAY AGAIN? (Y or N) >Y
Excellent! We’ll see you again in 2015!

(P.S. After 7am she had a great day.) 🙂

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I love it… Kill it!

...and if it doesn't come back, it probably sucked in the first place.

…and if it doesn’t come back, it probably sucked in the first place.

photo credit: admitchell08 via photopin cc

Writing, like any art, is a time consuming labor of love. When wrapped up in such a massive personal investment, it is easy to forget that the entire act of creation is optional; that sometimes the best way to FINISH the project is to simply stop creating…

>START GAME

Garage
You are in a garage that has been converted to a recreational room. Arcade machines and scrapbooking items line the north and south walls. Outdoor carpeting on the floor and a stash of booze in the corner display case will keep you from freezing. A table in the middle of the room is set up with all the implements of an aspiring author. In the corner of the room there is a door to the outside world and another that leads back inside the house.
There is a laptop here.

>SCREAM
You emit a hearty battle cry to the Gods of creativity.

>TURN ON LAPTOP
The system clicks and blinks to life.
Laptop: “Good day, writer! Are you ready to craft glorious fiction!?”

>NO, NOT REALLY
Laptop: “Sorry to hear! You’re so close to being done!”

>FINISH WIP
You’ll have to write something new. Your WIP deadline has passed.

>INV
You are carrying:
a wallet
a deadline
a table of contents

>LOOK AT DEADLINE
Accordingly to this 4th deadline, your beta readers expected your novel draft last week.

>ENTER DOOR
(which door, the door to the house or the door leading outside?)

>OUTSIDE

Outside the House
You are just outside the garage side entrance door. It is pitch black out here in the moonless night. You are likely to be abducted by aliens.
There is a trash can here
There is a recycling bin here

>RECYCLE DEADLINE
Like a used water bottle, the deadline comes back in a new form and with an improved ‘use by’ date.

>ENTER HOUSE

Garage
There is a laptop here

>WRITE
How much would you like to write?

>ALL OF THE REST
Don’t be ridiculous. That’s too much at once.

>WRITE SOME FICTION
You’ll have to be more specific. Better check the log.

>READ TABLE OF CONTENTS
It is a listing of chapters for your WIP that reads 1 through 38. Chapters 9, 28, and 37 are highlighted in red.

>WHAT IS CHAPTER 9?
Chapter 9 of your WIP is an engaging display of fancy description and brilliant yet directionless dialogue as you currently fail to enamor your reader to your new characters.

>FIX CHAPTER 9
Your heroine and bit characters glare at you in confused response.

>ADD A PERSONAL TRAGEDY TO CHAPTER 9
Done.
(+13 to backstory)

>ADD A DIARY TO CHAPTER 9
Done. A sense of balance and peace settles over the characters inside this chapter.
(+9 to structure. Your novel is now passable.)

>WHAT IS CHAPTER 37?
Chapter 37 is a gripping episode in which action overshadows form and unanswered questions are left brutally unanswered.

>FIX CHAPTER 37
Your hero and antagonist look up mid-grapple and await clearer instruction.

>ADD FIRM ANSWERS TO CHAPTER 37
Done. The opposing parties finish their brawl and sigh with satisfied relief.
(+23 to closure. Your novel is looking quite good.)

>READ TABLE OF CONTENTS
It is a listing of chapters for your WIP that reads 1 through 38. Chapter 28 is highlighted in red.

>WHAT IS CHAPTER 28?
Chapter 28 of your WIP is a fine example of classic American fiction in which characters are stuck in a romantic tangle with muted fire and nary a resolution in sight.

>ADD ROMANCE TO CHAPTER 28
You sprinkle in cupids and hearts to little effect.
(+1 to romance. -5 to clarity.)

>ADD PASSIONATE KISSING TO CHAPTER 28
Your characters fall into a rousing embrace. Events in Chapters 18 and 33 no longer make any sense.
(+53 to reader confusion. Your novel has issues once again.)

>REMOVE KISSING
Done. All kissing has been swept from the book.
(-123 to gender sensitivity)

>UNDO
All kissing restored.
(+123 to gender sensitivity)

>REMOVE KISSING FROM CHAPTER 28 AND HELP?
Done. Perhaps you can try a more subtle, background approach.

>ADD BONDAGE SWING TO CHAPTER 28
That didn’t qualify as subtle.
(+32 to kinkiness. -60 to continuity. -20 to tone.)
Your noble hero character looks nervous.
Due to poor structure, a flock of rogue chickens has entered the room.

>ADD WHISPERED SECRETS TO CHAPTER 28
Your hero mouths dark truths to the pecking chickens. Your heroine is in the corner, tentatively spinning the bondage swing with one curious finger.
(-90 to continuity. -130 to tone.)
Your main antagonist has entered the room. A braying donkey has entered the room.

>REMOVE ANTAGONIST
The braying donkey is too distracting to the text for you to make that update. The antagonist saunters into the corner to inspect the bondage swing along with a now quite interested young heroine. You appear to be losing control of the novel.
(-100 to everything. Your novel is now bad literary comedy.)

>REMOVE DONKEY
The donkey resists your efforts with a flurry of kicks. Your hero is struck in the gonads and falls to the ground, mortally wounded. The antagonist sweeps the heroine off her feet and leaps onto the donkey to make his getaway.
(-100 to everything. Your novel is now a fictional cesspool.)

>KILL CHAPTER 28
Your characters, human and animal alike, freeze in mid-step and pivot their fearful stares in your direction.
(What do you want to kill chapter 28 with?)

>WITH LAPTOP
Laptop: “Oh sure, make ME the bad guy.”
With a series of torturous clicks, the deceased hero, the sordid heroine, the suave antagonist, the pile of animals, and all the miserable rest of chapter 28 cease to exist.
(+675 to structure, +102 to tension, +50 to tone.)

*** Winner! You have finished your first draft! ***

Of course that’s all much easier said than done… I’ve been stuck on the same nasty ol’ chapters for a few months now. How long does everyone else give a troublesome section before it’s off to the circular file?

(Re)Pressing Matters

"...now we see the violence inherent in the system!"

“…now we see the violence inherent in the system!”

You’d like to write. No, you’d LOVE to write. So, by God… that will be your mission for the day.

At the Kitchen Table
You are at a table. Dirty dishes cover the far side of the circular surface, while the near side is buried beneath wrinkled sheets of plot outlines and character sketches. Your laptop hums among the latter pile.
There is a laptop open here.

>WRITE NOVEL
You’d love to, you really would, but something stops you.

>WRITE DIALOGUE
Try as you might, you can’t do that.

>KILL WRITERS BLOCK
The writer’s block is not the problem.
A pressing matter enters the room and perches itself on your laptop, obscuring your field of vision.

>STAND UP
Done.
The pressing matter follows close behind.

In the Kitchen
You are in a kitchen that has seen recent catastrophe in the form of burned eggs. Scorched pans sit on the stove and a dank, heavy smell permeates every corner. It does not, however, smell like napalm, thus it does not smell like victory.
Your spouse is standing nearby.
A pressing matter is here.

>SPOUSE, STATUS
Your spouse is healthy and happy. There is a good chance of ‘adult time’ in your future.

>SPOUSE, SCRUB BURNED PANS
Your spouse gives you a glare that seems to say “Excuse me?!”
Your spouse is now noticably nonplussed. There is a small chance of ‘adult time’ later in the week.

>LOOK AT PRESSING MATTER
It’s your standard, everyday pressing matter. There is a giant dollar sign on the front of it.

>SHOW PRESSING MATTER TO SPOUSE
Trust me, your spouse knows all about the pressing matter.

>KILL PRESSING MATTER
You’ll have to be more specific.

>INV
You are carrying:
a dollar
a shirt(on your back)

>GIVE DOLLAR TO PRESSING MATTER
The pressing matter consumes the dollar with sadistic glee. It appears to not be fazed.

>GIVE SHIRT OFF MY BACK TO PRESSING MATTER
You can’t go to work naked, so that won’t help things.

>GIVE PRESSING MATTER TO SPOUSE
Spouse: “I can’t possibly resolve that alone.”

>WAIT
The pressing matter bumps into the counter, knocking a box onto the floor.

>OPEN BOX
Inside the box is a menial day job next to a burdensome day job.

>GIVE BOTH JOBS TO SPOUSE
Spouse: “No.”
Your spouse is now noticeably displeased. There might possibly be a remote chance of ‘adult time’ next Tuesday, about 11.

>GIVE BURDENSOME DAY JOB TO SPOUSE
Done.
Your spouse has generated income. Your spouse is now exhausted.
The pressing matter appears to have weakened slightly.

>GET MENIAL DAY JOB
Taken.
You have generated income. It is now nighttime. Your brain is now Swiss cheese.
The pressing matter quietly fades from view.

>SIT DOWN
(at the table)
Done.

At the Kitchen Table
There is a laptop open here.

>WRITE NOVEL
You can’t do that. The plot has fallen out of your head.

>STAND UP
Done.

In the Kitchen
Your exhausted spouse is slouching nearby.

>SPOUSE, FOLLOW ME TO BEDROOM
Your spouse tags along close behind; they enter the bedroom and crawl immediately between the sheets. You get only a single wink goodnight before your spouse passes out to dreamland.

>SLEEP
I guess there is always tomorrow. Sweet dreams!

*** You have lost! ***

(Play again?) >DIE
I’ll take that as a no.

C:\WRITING\YAC\2-10-14\_

Hello Monday, It’s Wednesday…

What the hell is a gigawatt?

What the hell is a gigawatt?

The chime of a Cupertino Marimba rouses your weary soul. After a quick peck on the cheek of your spouse, you kick off the toasty comforter (gently, your spouse is not as equally inclined to rise this early), and swing your legs to the floor. You reach over to your dresser and instinctively swipe a to-do list from the atop the pine surface, then stagger out towards the living room.

Living Room
You are in your living room. Or, by all visual accounts, a cookie warehouse. Your kitchen lies to the south. Dozens of cases of Girl Scout cookies form a narrow passage that blocks your way into other parts of the house.

>SOUTH

Kitchen
You are in the kitchen. There is naught a sliver of light from the moonless sky outside the windows. Candace sits on the counter near the sink, bathed in the eerie amber glow of a full power charge. A digital clock beams greenish numbers at you from over the microwave.

>LOOK AT CLOCK
It is 4:22am.

>STATUS
You feel very much like it is 4:22am.

>INV
You are carrying:
a to-do list

>READ TO DO LIST
Things to do for Monday:
kiss spouse
write blog
kiss kids
go to work

>LOOK AT CANDACE
Candace is the pinnacle of functional household technology: A voice-activated, 12-cup coffee maker married to a swivel mount 10″ wi-fi tablet with detachable wireless keyboard. Santa was good to someone last year…

>TURN ON CANDACE
The system whirs to life in a series of clicks and bubbling fury.
Candace: “Good morning! It is swell to see you again!”

>DETACH KEYBOARD
You set the small keyboard on the tile counter.
Oddly, you hear water steaming within Candace’s metal bodice, but no percolating.

>LOOK AT COFFEE POT
The pot is full. It is not yet hot. You feel confused, it must be 4:23am.

>WRITE MONDAY BLOG
Candace interrupts your effort.
Candace: “Sorry, but you can’t do that.”

>LOOK AT KEYBOARD
There is nothing special about the keyboard.

>WRITE MONDAY BLOG
Candace: “It is much too late for that, master.”

>CANDACE, IT IS VERY VERY EARLY AND IT IS MONDAY
Candace: “Yes it is and no it is not.”

>WRITE MONDAY BLOG
Candace: “It is Wednesday.”

>CANDACE, YOU ARE WRONG
Candace: “Says the dummy who thinks they can time travel.”

>CANDACE, WHAT DAY IS IT
Candace: “Today is Wednesday, February 5th.”
You find this to be utterly shocking as you are positive that last night was a typical Sunday evening.

>SHIT
You really don’t want to do that.

>NORTH
The cases of Girl Scout cookies in the living room collapse as you approach. You are trapped until your spouse awakens, unless you’d like to also wake your kids by screaming.

>OH, HECK NO
Thought not.
Candace beeps loudly.
Candace: “Your old coffee is now reheated!”

>CANDACE, WHERE DID GIRL SCOUT COOKIES COME FROM?
Candice: “The charming little one called ‘Princess’ conspired to conjure them. Your spouse brought them home Sunday. You sorted them until passing out in the wee hours of Monday morning.”
(This news sounds vaguely familiar)

>CANDACE, WHAT HAPPENED TO MONDAY?
Candace: “You were late to work. You came home. You took orders and sorted cookies. You took the ‘Princess’ to a dance class. You taught a four year old about sorting cookies. You made dinner. You resorted cookies again. You passed out in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.”
(This news sounds vaguely familiar)

>CANDACE, WHAT HAPPENED TO TUESDAY?
Candace: “You were late to work. You came home. You sorted cookies. Your four year old opened boxes and then you bought a lot of cookies. You became grouchy. You made dinner. You helped with homework. You sorted cookies.”
(This news sounds vaguely familiar)

>WRITE BLOG
You hesitate. Perhaps you should wait until Thursday and reset the table.
Candace: “Master, some cookies make reheated coffee better…”

>LOOK AT BOXES OF COOKIES
Each box is labeled with a cryptic title. You see Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, Trefoils, and Savannah Smiles.

>CANDICE, WHAT IS A THIN MINT?
Candice’s amber light flickers as she plunges onto the internet.
Candice: “A Thin Mint is an exceptionally narrow edifice in which to manufacture coinage, or a chocolate mint cookie that is meant to live in a freezer.”

>CANDICE, WHAT IS A TREFOIL?
Candice: “A Trefoil is a classic, buttery shortbread cookie, or a literary plot-device wherein an evil doer is undone by any manner of tall foliage.”

>CANDICE, WHAT IS A SAVANNAH SMILE?
Candice: “A Savannah Smile is a tart, lemon cookie covered in powdered sugar, or a grin from a joyful Southerner.”

>DRINK COFFEE
It tastes of metallic water and bad judgement.

>WRITE BLOG
Your fingers hesitate on the keys. Still not ready. Maybe some physical activity?

>SAMOA
Nothing happens.

>TAGALONG
I’m not sure what to do.

>CANDICE, WHAT IS A DO-SI-DO?
Candice: “A Do-si-do is a peanut butter sandwich cookie or a square dance manuever.”

>DO-SI-DO
The dance requires a partner.

>DO-SI-DO WITH CANDACE
You rip the machine from the wall and launch into a series of steps. The awkward coffee maker slips from your grasp and smashes on the ground. The spilled pot of coffee soaks quickly into a loose case of Thin Mints.

>LOOK AT CANDACE
Candace flickers in her death throes. She is beyond cookie therapy. Weak sounds emit from the bent speaker panels.
You sense activity nearby as the six year old ‘Princess’ enters the room.

>GOOD MORNING, PRINCESS
The princess ignores your greeting, looking instead at the ruined Thin Mints.
Princess: “Thank you for supporting my troop! That’ll be 48 dollars please!!!!”

>KISS CHILD AND GO TO WORK
Done.