Saturday, February 19, 2005

Rainy Day Mail

I just checked the mail. It was lucky I felt like it, because it had started to rain and I had left the driver's side window open in my Jeep. The rain was light and hadn't soaked the seat yet.

The mailbox is several hundred feet uphill from the house and most days I walk it, but I didn't feel like getting dribbled on, so I succumbed to the Americal plague, and drove the distance to my own mailbox.

Inside were two items for me. One was a part I had ordered to repair the dish washer.

The other was the latest rejection in my search for an agent. No, let me re-phrase. Stories are rejected by editors. Agents decline to represent.

I admit to tears. I am built that way. I claim justification:

Today is a dreary wet day.
Earlier, I had written an emotional passage in my latest novel, where Phil, the father, must stop in his instinctual rush to rescue his son, so that he can do the smart thing,
I am working at my office desk today, and my coin collection is at hand. I picked up a two-pence coin, one of many coins I returned with from my last trip to England. Thinking of the coin, 'tuppence', I imagined what it would be like to explain to a small child what the coin was, and having the coin at hand that he could touch and see. My own children are too old for that, and as yet, I have no grandchildren. The ache to explain the wonders of the world to a child overcame me. I wonder if that is a core component to my personality.

I am too confident of my own writing to give up now, but I have to wonder, will I ever find my market? Will I ever find a way to get my stories, my characters, into the hands and minds of the people who would enjoy them?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Point and click

I've griped about Microsoft Windows for so many years (I use a Mac) that people who know me just discount my rants. So, I've backed off. I even have two Windows machines. One is in the RV, required so that I can use the Motosat satellite internet system. The other is a Sony laptop (feels like it's made of cast iron) that Mary Ann wanted so that she could run a stock market system and also some photo processing software that doesn't run on a Mac.

I had heard that there was a big set of Windows patches released, so I decided to go patch the Windows. I fired up the RV and located the laptop. Both had been gathering dust for several weeks.

I'm still not comfortable with two-button mice. Oh, I can use it, but not well. Mice are pointing tools. Point and click. If I need to do something else, there are a whole set of complex buttons on the keyboard. It's especially bad on the laptop. I can actually get by just using a two-button mouse as a one-button. You hand fits around the mouse. You don't have to look. I'm right handed. Using a laptop, my right hand rests where my thumb can work the trackpad and click, but on the Sony, it's positioned so the wrong button is under my thumb.

It's not that I can't adapt. I've been in computer since before mice were invented. I've used one-button, two-button, and three-button mice, all on different systems. They do each have their advantages. The problem is training. You have to be trained to use multi-button mice. It's not instinctive to know what each button does. Of course, once you've been trained, you can get some leverage out of the training. But if you're going to be using X11, Windows, and the Mac, which I do, the excess buttons are just not worth the trouble.

I'll stick to point and click.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Gray Days

Page 200-something on my latest novel, and nothing is more important that finding the right way to get Jerry and his new alien friend back across the teleportation portal. At times like this, I want nothing more than calm, uneventful days, where the my mind is more occupied with alien worlds and character development than new and exciting developments in the real world.

Each novel gets to this place, and personally, I need isolation. Last novel it was sitting at the table in the RV, as it was parked in the back yard. This year, it is in the 'formal living room'. That's what Mary Ann calls it. It's a small, roughly circular room with bay windows looking out over the front yard. I have taken over a comfortable rattan chair next to a little table for my drinks and my iPod. I can close the entrance doors and pretty much have an isolated area all to myself. With the windows to my back for better lighting, and nothing really interesting in my field of vision, it is a good place to work.

Except for Patches. He's an old dog, and most of the day he sleeps. The thing is, he likes to be close to his people. I'll close the doors, sit down and work away on the novel. After a few minutes, he'll nose the door open, walk in and examine the chairs. Most often, none of them suit and he curls up on the floor, out of sight and mind for a while.

His dreams are interesting. It's quite a challenge to imagine what he is dreaming, given his muscle twitches. Sometimes he's clearly running. There is dream-barking, dream-chasing, dream-marking-terratory-and-scratching-the-ground-with-his-hind-legs. All good doggie dream activities. I'm content he's here.

If he just wouldn't leave the door open.