Recovering

The weekend was, if nothing else, something.  Specifically a something that existed solely to propel me into Monday.  I was still feeling terrible until later Sunday, and coupled with not sleeping well put me into a unique state of stasis.  I remember things  happening but I don’t remember moving a whole lot.  The good news is that I am now finally on the mend, though still exhausted beyond semi-rational thought.  Things require my attention this evening so I’m not entirely sure if I’ll get time to sit down and write later though.  We will need to see.  Perhaps if I get the new 24 ounce cup of coffee from Tim Horton’s I’ll have the necessary energy to sit down and write tonight.

Speaking of which, I had one of these fabled coffee containers Saturday.  These majestic creations are awe-inspiring.  I love the fact that Tim Hortons asked their customers what they wanted and the overwhelming response was a bigger cup.  I did, however, attempt to get their new Lattes in the new extra-large cups yesterday only to be told they didn’t have any more cups.  I was both disappointed and relieved.  I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting going into that order.  The vanilla latte was nice, though not what I was expecting.  It wasn’t as sweet as their cappuccinos, and I think it would be a good drink for my fiancée who doesn’t like the sweetest of the cappuccino but hates the bitterness of straight coffee.  On the other hand, I think I’ll just be sticking with coffee for the interim.

Probably next week I’ll be getting my first pair of glasses that I am actually required to wear all the time.  I had reading glasses before.  At least until they were… broken through mysterious means.  According to the optometrist I may be able to just pass a drivers exam by squinting the entire time.  This definitely makes me taking the bus to work a much better decision then ever.  I’ve known my eyesight has been getting worse over the last year.  Spending my work days looking at a monitor for almost nine hours couldn’t do anything but harm my eyesight.  I don’t really have any other opinion on this.  It will be great to be able to see the screen without needing to lean in like an old man.

My Head is Leaking

I’m not exactly sure what my body’s plan is regarding this cold.  It can’t seem to make up its mind about whether my muscles should all ache at the same time, whether I should get flushed, whether I should be freezing, or should have a headache.  It does seem pretty adamant that my nose needs to continually run, as if my brains were leaking at an alarming rate into a viscous green slime.  It should come as no surprise that I am less than enthusiastic about this entire situation.

I was reading through The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo a bit more over the last few days.  I’m only a few chapters in; twelve minutes of bus rides does not allow for a whole lot of reading.  For the most part I’m enjoying the story and have been noting where the original movie and the American remake are the same and differ regarding the novel.  I can, however, say that I don’t like how on two occasions now the narrative will reference something that the POV character doesn’t know about yet.  It just jarred me and while the rest of the chapter was enjoyable, I kept thinking back to just how out-of-place that observation was.  It may be a little pedantic but that irritated me to no end.

So Mass Effect 3.  In just over a month.  I’m definitely excited about this, as I am a huge fan of the series.  I’d place the series, as a whole, as one of the most important franchises to come out this console generation.  There are always going to be issues in regards to the technical limitations of the hardware or game engine (the original had nothing but performance problems) but I love the story.  And I’m actually excited to play the multiplayer.  I saw the new trailer that was released today, and I can’t wait to wreck the Reapers’ day in a co-op fashion.

I do want to make a comment on the rumored next Xbox’s ability to not play used games.  I know it’s not a popular opinion but I’ll be damned if I could actually care about this.  I hate how I can install a game now on my 360, and then need the disk to play it.  If this turns out to be true, and it turns out that if I install the game to the hard drive and not need the disk to play it then I am all for it.  If they could even expand it to allow the Xbox store to have actual new releases I think I’d be more than satisfied with that turn of events as well.  Now I buy my games new, and this would affect a great many people.  But for me this wouldn’t cause me any grief.

Not a Great Start

There is something about waking up completely and utterly sick that is just tremendously horrid.  That first instant of consciousness when you blink away the sleep and realize that unfortunately today is going to be a complete and utter waste of your time.  That was me this morning, as I first came to the realization that perhaps my migraine from yesterday was saying, “I know you feel bad now but, man, tomorrow is gonna be so much worse.  I almost feel bad for you.”  You know, before the migraine kicked it into overdrive and felt like someone was trying to drill a whole through my head with a rusty corkscrew.  I feel like I need to get a tetanus shot just from thinking about that.

My fiance has – I don’t want to say accused – brought up how different I am in the real world compared to how I write on this very blog.  To which I always think to myself – perhaps actually said I don’t really remember – “Well hopefully I don’t sound like a rambling crazy person in real life.”  I can understand her response though.  I am a quiet, reserved person generally.  I think a lot but I don’t say a whole lot.  And I’m certain that she finds that endlessly irritating.  The problem is that I just don’t like talking; never have and never, in all likelihood, will.  I like the act of writing so much more.  Not having to instantly respond to things, just getting the time to mull over my exact response.  That’s what appeals to me.  And in all honesty part of the reason for this blog is to just have a stream of consciousness to just get me writing.  About whatever may cross my mind.  With a little spell checking, usually, after the fact so I don’t look as stupid as I actually am (after spell checking this post, I found out I spelt stupid wrong.  That’s just amazing).

I find it funny, looking back at my writing, just how clean the language is in it. I am, when playing games, a very foul-mouthed prick.  I’d like to blame it on the entire culture that Xbox Live seems to breed (my brother is far worse than me in this regards and he’s twelve years younger) but I think it’s more likely due to why I play games.  I play as a way to relieve stress and to experience an interactive story.  And after stressful days I just want to swear at computer generated character while I shoot ridiculous fictional guns.  But that doesn’t translate to most of my writing for some reason.  Every instance of swearing I actually put on paper I end up sitting there debating if there is any actual need for it.  Is it gratuitous?  Does the story get anything from it?  I just find it amusing that I’ll have a ten minute argument in my head about swearing in my writings, when I’ll swear ten times a minute over some action in a game.  There is definitely a disconnect there on some level.

My Skull Aches

This morning I woke up with a migraine.  This happens from time to time, nothing much to do regarding it.  Take some pain meds and tough it out.  Stay away from bright lights, that sort of thing.  Normally I would have just stayed home from work today, but I have a meeting that I can’t miss this afternoon so low and behold I am toughing it out.  The medication only started working about twenty minutes ago, but I can at least think for the time being.  Might have to take some more, probably in the next few minutes to make sure I am at least functioning at a level above “lump of flesh in a chair”.

I was honestly thinking of writing a short, short story regarding the agony I’ve been feeling today.  But just the mere thought of that made my head hurt more, which I can’t imagine is a good thing.  When your thoughts make your head physically hurt, there is something most definitely wrong with that.

I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a short story, based on a character that only briefly shows up in the novel.  I find her origin fascinating, but due to the relatively small roll she has in the story there isn’t any justification.  And given how violently her brief appearance and demise is in the novel proper, giving her back story would be nothing more that a pointless venture.  At least, if it was contained within the novel itself.

The problem is that I don’t know if I could ever make myself write something that depressing.  This girl is kidnapped, experimented on, and eventually changed into something not human.  Something that has never existed before, with terrible consequences.  Her mind snaps through it all, focusing all of her hatred and rage on the man who did this all to her.

Ten years ago, in my darker days, I would have jumped at this concept.  Hell, back then I’d already be writing it.  Those kinds of dark, twisted stories appealed to me.  Why?  No idea.  I wasn’t a violent person then, and I’m not now.  I guess the ideas of things we can’t begin to comprehend, the unimaginable horrors that wait just inches beyond our understanding, were the main draw.  But I just don’t think I have it in me to actually put down the events on paper.  Perhaps I’ve evolved as a person.  Or perhaps I’ve just become soft.  Either way, I’m still undecided.

Having Fun

So I did get time to work on the outline, at least a very high level outline.  I’ve got the first nine chapters and the main plot points resolved and have almost all of the tenth completed.  I ran into a bit of a road block trying to determine how two characters end up at a location.  Didn’t quite figure that out last night, but I decided about ten minutes ago that the point was to get the plot outlined not the details.  So, as of now, the characters arrive.  With the how to be determined when I’m actually writing the events.  Initially I was expecting roughly around twenty-seven chapters in addition to the prologue and the epilogue.  I’m still thinking this is a pretty close estimate but I think if anything the total number will shrink a bit.  I’ll just have to work out the details a bit more.  Like I’ve said the middle portion of the novel is the troublesome part.  But I have three key events that happen, and I know when they happen chronologically.  It’s just linking them together that needs work.  Regardless, I’m going to get back to work on it tonight and I’m hoping to have a completed outline finished before the weekend.  With luck I’ll actually achieve that goal, and depending what I need to get done on the weekend I might get started with rewriting the prologue.

I think I’ve settled into a nice routine at this point, with my week days at least.  I used to watch some podcasts on my bus ride to work in the morning, but I’ve replaced that with reading some of my purchases off Kobo (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo currently).  My lunch hours are set aside to eating and writing posts.  And depending on how much time I have after doing both, I tend to browse through the recent posts under the Writing tag.  I have yet to be unable to find at least one post that was interesting to me on some level.  I don’t really leave many comments but I should, perhaps, change that.  My ride home is also now devoted to browsing through other users’ posts.  I’ve found myself drifting more to posts either detailing the technical or theory behind writing.  Though I often end up going over other’s posts on updates to their writing progress.  I also try to keep up with blogs that I follow but my bus ride is only twelve minutes long.

I have been noticing that I’ve wanted to write.  Not because my phone reminds me at the same time every night to get my ass in gear, but because I’m having fun doing it.  I used to write a lot more; several years ago.  But there was never any fun in it.  It was a compulsion, an almost clinical need to put the words on paper.  I think it was partially to try to get some relief from the depression I suffered through, and even then it didn’t help.  But now?  This reminds me of being back in kindergarten.  Writing that first story with stick figure illustrations to go along with it.  It reminds me of those horrible short stories I wrote in Grade 3, with demons ghosts and vampires.  It’s a feeling like I’m back where I was meant to be despite having lost my way so long ago.

Outlines – I Need a Roadmap

Tonight, if things go as I plan (and lets be honest, the universe seems to love messing with my plans) I’ll sit down and finish writing out the entire outline of the novel.  The problem, with said outline, is that I know how the first seven or so chapters will play out, and I know how the last seven or so conclude (with the inclussion of an epilogue of some sort).  However, in the midle I only have one or two.  So I’m just going to have to sit down, brainstorm and get those on paper.  I don’t want to move forward on this until I’ve reached that point.  I’ve got this block that unless I know exactly what happens I don’t want to start putting it down on paper.  I don’t want to finish the first seven chapters then realize I don’t know how to get from their to major plot point… let’s go with J because J never really comes up when listing points.

Each chapter will jump between character points of view.  The first three chapters will jump between two characters, the next two chapters after that will add one more, and then starting with the sixth chapter all four main characters will be accounted for.  The only exception to this is the last four chapters.  At that point there is a large scale battle being waged and each character will get a chapter devoted to their actions during that timeframe.  The idea being that the four characters at that point are seperated, and working with other teams to push forward and get to the end goal.  And it would be really confusing at that point having to jump between each character, as there would be too much happening to really grasp the scope and horror as to what was happening.

The novel itself has of course the Man Vs Man, Man Vs Creature (though with the tone of the novel Man Vs Man covers this as well), and Man Vs Self conflicts.  There is also Man Vs Fate.  This last one is something that I’d like to discuss a bit.  In this fictional world, Fate exists.  Everything that could ever happen has been decided previously; when you are born your entire life has already been planned out for you.  There are instances where someone or something has managed to change their fate, but Fate itself has always corrected things.  Brutally.  There are two anomalies to this, that being the main character and the one of the antagonists.  Neither have a fate, though the nature of their lacking of a fate differs.

In regards to the antagonist, his lack of fate is… personal.  He can prematurely end someone else’s life, and save some who were meant to die.  However, Fate resolves the extended living within a day or so.  For all intents and purposes he can only briefly affect the lives of those around him.  Well except for those he kills.  Obviously.

The protagonist, however, can affect the fates of others.  Seemingly permanently.  People he helps or saves all have their fates erased, and Fate doesn’t correct the problem.  The future gets rewriten slightly to take this into account.  However this permanency is only tied to the protagonist’s actions.  Fate still corrects if things are changed from the previous plan by someone other than the protagonist.  He is told about this in the last two thirds of the book but believes it to be completely bullshit.  Unfortunately, the previously mentioned battle is a direct result of him lacking fate and being able to give others actual free-will; not just the perception of it.

Doughnuts at Midnight: Redux

I finished the first draft last nigh, after about an hour and a half.  I’m happy with how it turned out, for the most part.  I’ll need to go back and fine tune some things later on but that’s just writing.  I’d recommend reading Aging Power first, if only to get a better sense for the story.  As it is sort of continuation of it.

———————————————————–

Beyond the windows the city waited, racked in agony as it fought against the disease that swam in its veins.  The pale light that escaped from the shop only highlighted the grime and depravity that had been allowed to exist; allowed to spread.  Across the street, under a rusting lamppost, a prostitute leaned down to talk to a John; her breasts nearly bursting out of her implausibly tight tube top a she did so.  A police officer rounded the corner.  His eyes met the prostitutes;  the look only lasted half a second before the man did what every other officer in the city did.  He turned and walked away.

“Disgraceful.”

“Deplorable.”

“The hell are you two going on about?” Mick asked as he sat back down, tray in hand.

“This city.  How far its fallen since the good old days,” Jackson said, removing a cup from the offered tray.

“This again?” Mick asked through tight lips.

“Well some of us took pride in what we did, Mick,” Jackson responded, taking the first sip of the streaming coffee.

“Come on, Jack.  You know Mick’s not like that,” Landon said, reaching for the non-dairy creamer.  Two taps, powder dropping, and a scowl later, “He was in the game before you or me.”  A playful smirk, “Long before.”

“Hey now.  Have you looked at yourself in the mirror?  You aren’t a spring chicken either you know.”

Landon pointed to his wrinkled face, the lines honed and carved by time, “Seriously? You don’t see a face of eternal youth here?”

Mick chuckled, taking a packet of imitation sugar after a moment’s hesitation.  His hands shook, only slightly, as he tore off the top.  He was silent as he stirred in the fraudulent powder; he could already taste how unlike sugar it was.  “The city is what it is.  But that doesn’t change what we did for it.”

“Tried to do,” Landon added as he grimaced at his first mouthful.

“Not that any of that mattered,” Jackson muttered, glaring into his cup.

“It did; in it’s own way,” Mick sagged back into his chair.  “Even though it might not look like it now.  But back then?  We made a difference.”

“It obviously wasn’t enough.”

“It never was,” Landon took another sip.  “No matter how much we did; no matter how much we sacrificed it was never enough.”

Mick shrugged, his shoulders sagged a bit more, “I suppose not.  There was always another danger, off in the distance.  We’d put down one problem and two more would sprout up.  But that doesn’t diminish or actions.  It doesn’t wipe out our victories.” Landon nodded, and reached for one of the two doughnuts on the tray, “True.” Sprinkles fell off as he took grasp of it, “Those were definitely some of the best days of my life.”  He took a bite with a smirk, “Definitely miss the women though.”

Only Mick laughed, “The job did have its perks.  Wait was that why your suit-”

“Was designed to show off what I had to offer?  You bet your old ass it was.”

“I can’t believe you two are joking about this.  How can you stand to see the city like this?” Jackson said, his eyes accusing.  “How can you just watch as everything we built tumbles down around you.”

“What can we do?” Landon asked between bites, “Suit up again?”

“Why not?”

“Because they didn’t want us anymore, Jack.” Mick said, leaning over the table to look at Jackson.  “They told us loud and clear forty years ago to get out of their lives.”

“Not to mention I doubt the suits would fit anymore,” Landon said, wiping a stray crumb from his lips.  “Well, mine still would.”

Jackson looked towards Mick, “Why can’t we?  This city needs us.  We can still do this.”

“No, we can’t.  We gave it all up, Jack, for good reason.  We can’t force them to accept our help if they don’t want it.”

“Why not?  They can’t-”

“Stop us?”

“Exactly.”

“How would that make us any different then what we fought against?”

Jackson tightened his grip on the cup, “We’d be saving them.”

“We’d be forcing our will on them.  That’s exactly what all of those crackpot villains tried to do back then.”

Landon kept quiet, gingerly taking sips from his coffee.  Mick slumped back into his chair, running a hand through his silver hair.  Jackson just sat there on the edge of his chair refusing to back down or concede.

“Is this how you want to go out?  Turning a blind eye to how diseased this city is now?”

Mick’s eyes narrowed, “No.  Do you think I like knowing that a doughnut, in the end, might kill me because of my diabetes?  Not a bullet as I try to stop a bank robbery.  Not an explosion as I try to save a passenger car full of innocents.  No, a single fucking doughnut could if I don’t keep track of my blood sugar right.”

“That’s kinda messed up,” Landon said, trying to defuse the situation.  “Jack, I need a smoke.” He patted Jackson on the back.  Begrudgingly Jackson stood, though without breaking eye contact.  The two pushed through the doors and walked into the night.  Landon fumbled with his jacket pocket and produced a pack of cigarettes.  He offered one to Jackson before retrieving one for himself.  He stuck out his index finger and willed a small flame into existence at the tip.  He watched it dance for a moment before lighting up, “He’s right you know.”

Jackson scowled as he leaned down to the flame, “You too?”

“Don’t get me wrong I miss the old days.  Mick too.  But he isn’t wrong on this; we aren’t wanted.  Hell, with luck they’ve forgotten about us.”

Jackson grunted in response.  The two sat there in silence for what seemed like ages in the cool night air.  They listened to the sounds of the city: the gunfire, shouts, and screams.  The longer they stood there, the longer they listened, the more they felt powerless.  “How can you say that,” Jackson said finally, “when you can hear the city in death throes?”

Landon sighed before taking a long drag.  He exhaled slowly, watching the smoke slowly melt into the night’s air.  “Do you really think it’s a coincidence that the city is still standing, even though we all stopped fighting those lunatics?  What was it?  Every other week some nut job showed up threatening to blow up this, destroy that, disintegrate someone?  Usually the mayor.  There hasn’t been any of that since we ‘retired’.” Another drag, “Like it or not, Jack, we were the root cause for that insanity.  Yes, this city has fallen far.  Farther than I could have ever imagined it would.  But this is the world they decided to build for themselves.”

Jackson stood there, the ember from the cigarette glowing bright red before dying down, “I can’t let it go.”

“You need to, Jack.  It’s going to drive you mad if you don’t,” Landon added, dropping his cigarette and grinding it under his foot.  “Come on, let’s get back in there and finish that awful excuse for coffee.”

Landon left him there, standing in silence on the steps to the coffee shop.  The city’s lights reflected off the clouds, giving the sky a green hue.  He could sense the blight that infected the city: the gangs, prostitutes, drugs, murders.   Jackson could feel it all in his bones, in his soul.  He could feel the city crying out to be saved; terrified and alone, wondering why no one could hear its pleas for salvation.

Landon and Mick.  They were right.  The people of the city might not be asking for their help.  They might not want it.  They might not even remember who they were.  But the city did; and he wouldn’t turn his back on it.  He dropped his cigarette.  As his foot came down, he looked up to the city’s sky line, “I can’t.”

——————————————————

And thus that concludes the first draft of “Doughnuts At Midnight”.  Like I noted yesterday dialog really isn’t my strong suit, but I’m hoping it wasn’t especially bad.  Though I’ll need to take another look when I’m not so damn tired.