Monday, October 12, 2009

Displacement behavior is tasty....

So far today I have made pickles, habanero oil, Scurvy Cure (it's a beverage, and the secret recipe is not mine to share), ancho-vanilla extract, baked veggie pasta, and orange-ginger-beet-carrot juice.

I'm about to bake brownies.

Why yes, the page proofs are due back on the fifteenth.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Iterative Catwaxing

So I've been catwaxing on posting about catwaxing (to understand recursion, you must first understand recursion) and honestly, for the last week, I have been working too hard to claim catwaxing at all. Despite being a bit sidelined with an eye infection, I've managed to write over a thousand words on every day except one, and on two of those days I logged over 3,000 words.

This is something like my productivity of yore, before the Dark Days of 2008-2009, where pretty much my process fell into disarray and every word was a struggle. I'm really hoping this means I have my mojo back, because--my mojo, I need it.

However, having accomplished that, and also finished a draft of a novella, and done a whole bunch of other work, I'm rewarding myself with a weekend more or less off. (Even my days off always seem to involve some work, but that's the joy of being self-employed. The work is never actually Someone Else's Problem.)

So I'm going to curl up in my big papa chair and drink tea and watch a whole lot of television.

...which leads me to a catwaxing tool par excellence.

Netflix Watch Instantly.

The thing I love most about it is that there's no commitment. Halfway through a movie, disliking it? Quit! Delete! Move on! You don't even have to get up off the couch to eject it.

Now, that's satisfying.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fun With Words

As is true of a lot of writers, I'm sure, my favourite catwaxing pastimes still include words, mostly in reading them or playing games with them. As I'd previously mentioned that there is a Facebook game that eats up copious amounts of my time, I thought now would be as good a time as any to share it with you.

It's called Wordy and it's a bit peculiar. There are multiple ways to play -- my favourite is Word Twist, where you are given a grid of letters and must move them around to form words. Calling it "Word Twist" is a bit of a misnomer, as you can exchange any two letters regardless of where they are, but that's not where the peculiarity comes in.

The peculiarity arises because, if I'm not mistaken, this game was originally written in Turkish. This leads to some translation errors between levels, and also some strange gaps in the game itself. For instance, I have played the game for months now, and not once has the letter "N" made its way onto the board. Likewise, while the game will accept the word "cwm", it will not accept the word "zoo." There are occasionally times when I just resort to shifting letters around hoping the AI will recognize words that I do not.

The most frustrating part of the game, though, is the fact that it will occasionally stop recognizing my mouse clicks, meaning that have to refresh the page and start over from scratch if I want to keep playing. And yet, despite all this, I do want to keep playing. It's addictive, and that's the way internet games are supposed to be.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Can be," the tattoo artist said. "Can be a tribal thing, too."

That sounded better to Cait. "Yeah," she mumbled. "That's it." She didn't want to tell him about Madonna. It was still too fresh in her mind.

The artist got up, stretching his lean but muscular arms, which were showcased by the black sleeveless shirt he wore. They were bare of any ink, but he had a band around his throat, and it emphasized his haunted eyes and chiseled features.

"You're going to feel a little prick," he said behind her.

Wouldn't be the first time, Cait thought to herself, but chose to keep her thoughts private.

The pain was more than a prick. It penetrated her, the needle thrusting into her delicate skin to fill her with its ink, and for a moment she feared that he had hit a nerve and she was going to be paralyzed from the waist down. Just as she was about to start panicking, however, the pain was faded, to be replaced by a kind of delicious sense of completion, as though something she had been missing all her life had finally been found. She felt like she could feel some sort of connection with the artist. Some sort of shared intimacy. be continued...

The ultimate cure for writing is... more writing.


Chapter one.

Ever since Caitlin Ciccone was little, she's wanted a tattoo. Nothing elaborate, just a simple pawprint in the small of her back in memory of Madonna, her childhood cocker spaniel--who had unfortunately had to be put down because like so many blonde cockers, she suffered from Rage Syndrome.

Today was her eighteenth birthday (Caitlin's, not Madonna's), and by God, she was getting it done. Despite all her roommate's cracks about tramp stamps and California license plates. She'd had the appointment for two weeks, and her dad was going to kill her if he ever found out--no bikinis in the swimming pool back home!--but she was going ahead with it.

As she lay face down on the brown vinyl bench, the tattoo artist was making conversation as he arranged the transfer paper over her coccyx. "You a Huskies fan? Women's basketball? I loved that Rebecca Lobo back in the day."

The cradle kept Caitlin from shaking her head. "Pawprints are a basketball thing?" be continued...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Catwaxing Project

So for a while I've been thinking about horror/suspense/dark fantasy/thriller/mystery novels that have writers as protagonists, antagonists, or some other sort of significant but nist-less character, and I've decided to try to put together a list of as many I can find.

Off the top of my head, I have:

Lisey's Story by Stephen King
Bag of Bones by Stephen King
Misery by Stephen King
The Shining by Stephen King (noticing a trend here...)
The Hellfire Club by Peter Straub
Small Town by Lawrence Block
Who Made Stevie Crye? by Michael Bishop
Faerie Tale by Raymond E. Feist
The Peter Wimsey novels in which Harriet Vane appears, written by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Tim Underwood books (eg The Throat, Koko) by Peter Straub

I am specifically excluding straight SF, non-dark fantasy, and mainstream works, such as Herovit's World by Barry Malzberg or The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, and Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon.

Does anyone have any further suggestions?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mortal catwax:

Reading up on time of death.

Money shot (so to speak): "Involvement of the walls of the seminal vesicles by rigor [mortis] may lead to discharge of seminal fluid at the glans penis."

Yes, this is work-related reading.
Innocently listening to Internet Radio can lead to a forty-minute catwaxing expedition across Youtube...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Heads on Turntables

Oddly, this is the only video on YouTube tagged "heads on turntables." But it's awesome:

Neurosonics Audiomedical Lab

strategies in avoidance

Has everybody actually been working lately? I notice a dearth of shiny, squeaky cats in these parts recently.

Me, I'm in that sticky bit of writing the mystery where I know the victims, but I haven't yet sorted out who the killer is. So I'm kind of stalling until the copy-edited manuscript I'm waiting for gets here, while my backbrain works on the stuck part. However, that means not so much catwaxing as actively finding things to do that are not work, because while it's working over the hard bit, my brain refuses to put out on other writing-related topics.

However, in the past seven days, I have:

Climbed a cliff (three routes)
Driven to Maine
Attended a concert
Done a whole bunch of outstanding paperwork
Read a book or two
Cleaned up the pile of returnables (aka the Shrine To Bacchus) on the back porch
Watched a certain amount of ancient television
Brushed the dog (who still needs more brushing)

...and done some laundry.

Now if only I could write more than one sentence today...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nuggets gleaned while catwaxing

While avoiding working on my book by surrounding myself with other people's at a local used bookstore, I came across one of the weakest book blurbs I've seen in my life:

Giant's Bread by Mary Westmacott (aka Agatha Christie)
"A satisfactory novel..." -- The New Yorks Times

Talk about damning with faint praise.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Neurology of Catwaxing

Via a link on my Twitter feed (*ahem cough cough*), an article on the neurological causes of Google/Twitter addiction -- or as they put it, "seeking behaviour". Or as I put it, that thing where you fall down Wikipedia for an hour or two.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Still more circular catwaxing

I was in rare form today. I wrote 1300 words of an entirely different novel (un autre roman) in an attempt to avoid working on either of the two novels or the novella with looming deadlines.

And then I wrote a blog post detailing the hour-long process of tweaking the first paragraph to get it right.

Not sure how long it's going to take me to top that one.

There are some cats money can't wax. For everything else, there's Wikipedia.

Reading up on 1984 fashion, early eighties movies and the casts thereof: one hour.
The one throwaway sentence you needed the reference for: thirty seconds.
Having a well-waxed cat? Priceless.

Catwaxing stats for today:

-Books Returned to the Library After Reading: 2
-Books Returned to the Library, Partially or Completely Unread: 6
-Hours Spent at the Library: 1
-Books Read at the Library: 1
-Books Borrowed from the Library: 5
-Books Considered but Left Behind: 4 (no, not Lahaye/Jenkins Left Behind)
-Showers Taken: 2
-Personal Blog Posts: 1
-Cats Literally Waxed: 0

I'd like to say that if it hadn't cracked 100 F (40 C) with humidex today I'd have done less waxing. I'd like to say that, but it's a lie. I just would have catwaxed in greater comfort.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cats waxed to avoid actually posting to this blog about catwaxing:

  • Taking pictures of my current knitting project and putting them up on Ravelry. Of course, with appropriate sizing, organization, and all.
  • Reorganizing my Ravelry queue, as one does.
  • Starting a whole new Facebook photo album.
  • Dutifully catching up on my Twitter.
  • Rewriting my to do list for this week.
  • Tidying my coffee table.
I'm surprised that the sheer meta of this didn't rip the space-time continuum...

ETA: Jamie wants the knitting pictures, so here are my unfinished Waterfall Socks.

a copular verb in the present tense

Elizabeth Bear (1:01:28 PM): ...does anybody know how Russians punctuate dialogue?

Leah Bobet(1:04:39 PM): I do not, sorry.

Bear (1:05:28 PM): I have learned that Russian lacks a copular verb in the present tense, and so it may be indicated by a dash.

Bear (1:05:39 PM): IE, they have no equivalent of "to be."

Bear (1:06:17 PM): I am a jelly doughnut, then, in Russian becomes I -- jelly doughnut.

Bear (1:06:34 PM): Aha!

Bear (1:07:15 PM): They use a combination of the dashes and the guillemets

Bear (1:07:17 PM): win!

One wonders how one translates "To be or not to be" or "I think, therefor I am," into Russian., here's a webpage on domovoi....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I just spent two hours looking up what kind of collar I should put on this 19th-century jacket, and in the process getting lost in Wikipedia.

Internet Archaeology: All the Content, (Almost) None of the Slapfights

I thought I would take a break from obsessively playing an English-language word game of apparently Turkish origin (more on that later) to discuss one of my other recent pastimes, something I like to call Internet Archaeology.

Simply put, Internet Archaeology is the practice of reading through old message board entries and archived blog posts, as well as anything else that offers information going more than a month or two into the past -- Amazon reviews, websites that are no longer up to date, and so on. But to be a proper Internet Archaeologist, something else is required: mindfulness. It isn't enough to read these archives; you must be aware that what you are reading is old, and thus that any potentially-contentious issues that you might encounter are likewise in the past. This can be a tremendously liberating realization.

Because you are reading something months or even years after it was originally posted, you can approach it with the emotional detachment you might bring to a book or to a magazine article. You may still get upset, but you will be less likely to find yourself dragged into the swirling vortex of internet drama simply because very few people want to be that person who resurrected an ancient flame war. And because you're less likely to hit "reply" and post something in the heat of the moment, you can take that energy and channel it into more productive areas, such as writing a cogent essay rebutting the position at length, going to the gym, or organizing your notebooks alphabetically by manufacturer.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think somebody just said something stupid on UseNet.

towards an exegesis of catwaxing...

First off, I think we need to define our terms. There are two commonly used phrases to indicate unproductive work around writing: "catwaxing" (or "cat waxing") and "cat-vacuuming."

While both of these terms are etymologically similar ("I can't write right now: I have to vacuum my cat") and both indicate displacement activity ("any work but the work we should be doing" [Monette, 2005]), there are some differences in how each is used. Generally, in this author's experience, cat-vacuuming is the work one feels one must do in order to get ready to write--the washing of dishes, walking of dogs, sorting of pencils, scrubbing of the bathroom grout--whereas catwaxing is more properly reserved for the work one does in place of writing, which one can somehow justify as writing-related.

In exemplia, catwaxing behaviors may include blogging, drawing maps, rearranging post-it notes stuck to the wall of the den in a more pleasing pattern while claiming to be "working on one's outline," and so forth. With the advent of Twitter and the #wip hashtag [Lake, 2009] the actual act of working on one's novel can be subsumed into catwaxing activity.

The worm Ourbourous has turned full circle. The cat waxes itself.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Welcome to Cat Waxing and Colour-Coordinated Pens, a blog devoted to the amazing procrastinating abilities of we authors. Expect to find all sorts of things here -- anything but actual, productive words.

Hope you'll stay a while.