Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Quote

Image, Oscar Wilde, public domain from Wikipedia
Oscar Wilde

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.

      Oscar Wilde

I have a couple of poems that are giving me the same problem...

© 2012 K. R. Smith

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reluctantly, Part II

Since my initial effort at writing based upon a generated first wasn't too bad (even though I borrowed the line from Elly), I decided to try another. To make things a little more interesting, instead of using it to begin a new story, I thought I might add to my first story, making a "Part II," using a second "first" line.

So, during my ride home on the Metro, I pulled out my phone, browsed to Elly's blog, and tapped on the link for the First Line Generator. This is what I got:

Browser image of random first line generator on phone
My next first line reads, "She hadn't meant to take so long."

It couldn't have been better if I'd written it myself. It fits right in with where I'd left off!

Now, I set aside my next 10 minutes (or 11, in my case) to write Part II...

Part II

She hadn't meant to take so long. She just wanted to grab a quick cigarette before the boss came back. It wasn't good to keep a customer waiting, especially a new one, what with tips being as scarce as they were these days.

Kristy did a minimal hand wash, then grabbed a menu. As she walked down the counter, she hunted for a pen in her pocket to write the order. It wasn't until she was right in front of him, laying the menu on the counter, that she looked up.

"Can I get you something to..." she said, stopping mid-sentence.

Frank looked back, his eyes squinting slightly. The only sound was the rattle of the fan in the window air conditioner as they stared at each other for a moment.

"Uh, something to drink?" she added hesitantly.

"Do you have iced tea?" Frank replied without blinking or looking away from Kristy's face.

Kristy seemed almost startled that there was an answer.

"Sweetened or unsweetened?"


Kristy turned slowly towards the back of the counter, picked up a glass, and filled it with ice. She knew that face. She was sure of it. She grabbed a pitcher from the refrigerator and filled the glass, her hand shaking a little. She carried it with both hands and set it in front of Frank.

"Unless you know what you want, I'll give you a minute to look over the menu."

Frank pulled the menu toward him, still looking at Kristy.

"Oh, and we're out of meatloaf."

Frank opened the menu, eventually looking down at it without interest. What was it about her that seemed so familiar? His eyes scanned the menu, but the words didn't register.

Well, that's as far as I could get in my allotted time. There are a few words I'd probably change, and it might be good to add a bit more to it. Remember, this is a first draft, so there's always a little polishing that could be done. I'm hoping the story shows a bit of tension building.

I did go back and make one change - I spelled Kristy's name wrong in one place. Hey, it has more than four letters, so it's a hard word for me.

I'm wondering if I should try for a third segment of the story based on the First Line Generator's suggestions. I'm not sure I'd get one that would fit into the story so easily, but it might be fun. Or blow the story all to bits.

If you have any thoughts on this, let me know!

© 2012 K. R. Smith

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reluctantly, He Handed Over The Key

Okay, Elly I accept your challenge. No, you really didn't make a challenge, but I accept it anyway...

On Ellora Bennett's blog, she did a ten-minute exercise in writing. I thought I'd try the same thing, although I took at least eleven minutes because I type so slowly...

It all begins with a random phrase, in this case: Reluctantly, he handed over the key. From there, you write a little part of a story using that as a catalyst. Here's what I came up with...

Reluctantly, he handed over the key.

"I guess I'm stuck here for a while," Frank said without a smile.

"You're lucky we had an alternator for your car. We can't carry a whole lot of spares in a small shop like this. And the nearest dealer is about 60 miles from here."

"I suppose. It's just that I was hoping to make Flagstaff tonight."

"Well, you still might. Won't take too long to put it in," replied the mechanic looking back into the bay.


"You know, there's a little diner just down the street. It's as good of a place as any to wait. Not much else in this town to do."

Frank nodded, and then looked down the street to a small sign that read, "Good Eats". If anything promised a gastronomic delight, that wouldn't be it.

As he walked, he noticed all the old buildings. No, there wasn't much else in this town. Hardly any traffic to speak of. Some of the shops were closed, and all the stores had windows covered with the desert's yellow dust. The heat rolled up from the pavement, right through his shoes, making him hope the diner at least had air conditioning and something wet and cold.

He opened the door and walked in, spying a few customers scattered in the booths. He took a seat at the counter and looked around for a waitress. He felt the eyes of the other customers watching him. They must not get too many visitors here, he thought.

After a minute or so, a woman came out of the back, tall and thin, wearing a white uniform, and shouted to him, "Be right with you."

He wasn't sure why, but she seemed oddly familiar. He couldn't imagine how. He had never been in this town before, and the longer he looked at her, the more he wished he wasn't there now.

Okay, it's not as exciting as Elly's, but it could still work into something more. Maybe you can give it a try yourself!

© 2012 K. R. Smith

Friday, July 20, 2012

Camp NaNoWriMo

For those of you into insomnia, Camp NaNoWriMo is re-opening soon!

In truth, it opened up once for the month of June, but if you missed that, you can jump in for the second session starting August 1st to make your feeble attempt at writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

I'm not entirely convinced about the usefulness of these sorts of events, but many people like them and it does give one a sense of accomplishment it they succeed. And there's no real down-side if you don't. Sometimes things happen, and even dedicated writers can have other priorities sneak into their schedule. I can also see how it could allow one to get a basic novel down so it can be polished up a bit later. If you have any thoughts on this, or just want to tell everyone about your progress (or lack thereof), please post a comment letting everyone know!

I'm going to follow a few folks who have entered (like you, Elly...) and see how they do.

For everyone else, don't worry if you miss out on this one, too. There's always National Novel Writing Month in November!

Good luck! And you might want to stock up on coffee...

© 2012 K. R. Smith

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Strasser Syndrome

I had planned to set aside some time during the next few weeks to work on a few of the stories I've been neglecting and perhaps put the final touches on a poem that I wish to use in a guest blog post. This may not work out as I'd hoped.

A few days ago, I pulled out the laptop and started it up. Up to a point, that is...

I noticed I got a pretty background and a mouse pointer that responded quite nicely to any mouse movements, but there was nothing to click on. I tried booting again, several times in fact, with irritatingly consistent results.

I tried to restore from the restore partition, but nothing changed.

I tried to reload from the initial system backup, but the outcome was the same.

Eventually, I found the diagnostics and ran them. Everything checked out properly - except the hard drive, which was what I had feared. It had failed.

Failed hard drive
The hard drive the died...

I have all of my data, of course. It's backed up in three different places, so that isn't a concern, but this was the only computer with Office 10 installed, and some of the files were in the new Office 10 format (.docx). Yes, they can be converted, but I didn't want to hunt for any formatting inconsistencies and such.

If you've read Bethanne Strasser's blog, you may remember that she recently had a problem with her laptop computer right when she was trying to finish up a project. She was coming up on her book release when her's quit. I didn't have any hard deadlines, but I did want to get back to work on these projects. So my inner voices, Ego-Master and Id-Boy, began a conversation on what to do next.

Scenario: Id-Boy spots a problem with the main computer bank (aka, the laptop) and calls upon Ego-Master for help.

"Sir, we've had a system failure of some sort. I can't get to the files!"

"Relax, son," replied Ego-Master. "We'll work our way through this."

"See, sir. The computer won't respond!"

"Doesn't look good," said Ego-Master as he stared at the monitor. "Not good at all."

"But, sir, we're almost out of time before vacation. What will we do?"

"You want to do some writing during your vacation, son? Well, we don't need no stinking computer to do some writing!"

"How is that possible, sir?"

"You got some paper? You got a pencil?"

"Yes, sir."

"That's all you need, son."

"You mean, manually write the words?" asked Id-Boy sounding incredulous. "I - I've heard of that, sir. You know, from the history books. But I never thought I'd really have to do that sort of thing!"

"It's easy, son. And once the laptop is fixed, you just type the words in."

"But, sir, what about spell check? I need my spell check! And a thesaurus! They'll all be gone!"

"Snap out of it, boy! By God, I won't have this! If some girly little romance writer can handle it, so can you!"

Id-Boy bowed his head and responded meekly, "Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. It won't happen again."

"Besides, when you finally do type it in, you'll have your spell check back in working order."

"Yes, sir. I'll do my best."

"In the mean time, I'll order a new hard drive. It should take less than a week to get here."

"A week?"

"I'm not paying for that express shipping, boy! Good God, that costs more than the drive!"

"Sorry, sir. It just seems like forever. How long can one of these pencil things last?"

"A long time, son. A long time. I'll even show you how to sharpen it."

"Sharpen it? Isn't that dangerous, sir?

"Ha!" laughed Ego-Master, leaning back with his hands on his hips. "Depends on what you write!"

"You've been through this before haven't you, sir?"

"Yes, my boy, I have. It's been a while, but you never forget. Never. There's even a name for that horrible feeling you get when there's writing to be done and the hardware lets you down."

"A name, sir?"

"Yes," said Ego-Master, putting his hand on Id-Boy's shoulder and looking off into the distance. "It's called the Strasser Syndrome."

Yes, I know this was supposed to be a more serious blog, but the circumstances at hand seem to be preventing that.

© 2012 K. R. Smith