The Grinder

First of all, let me apologize for missing Friday. Among many things going on over the past few weeks, I was finally able to expand the tattoo on my left arm. It now extends out onto my chest and around to my back. There are some pretty big plans brewing around it that, unfortunately, won't come to fruition until right before my next child is born. Here's hoping that Little Miss stays on schedule and allows me this one last (painful) respite.

On the writing front, I finally crossed 50k words on The Magician. For the majority of this novel, I've been using Write or Die 2. For the uninitiated, this is a word processor that is designed to eliminate excuses. While there are lighter settings, my favorite is 10 second Kamikaze mode. In WoD2, it makes it so it eliminates the vowels from words if you stop writing. In the original, it deleted full words. So, as you might be able to tell, there's a certain amount of insanity that comes into using this feature, but it's not as harsh as it could have (and previously has) been.

Now I've written well over 30k using this tool, if not more. In fact, this version came out in the middle of National Novel Writing Month, so I got to switch in the middle of my initial sprint on The Magician. I will leave it at this: it has been a buggy release. I'm still plagued with bugs about sounds continually playing after I've left the Danger Zone, the timer going forever (i.e. never letting me rest) because I set my word count to 0. But, through it all, I've been able to save my progress and continue without so much as batting an eyelash.

Until this past Thursday.

Due to an inordinately long Wednesday at my job, I was able to go in a bit later to my job (which, as a tangent, I still ended up starting work two hours earlier than I was scheduled). When I get these rare opportunities, I go to one of my local coffee shops and park it there for a few hours. I was starting to feel the groove in WoD2. On an average day, I can hit 1,000 words if I give myself twenty to twenty-five minutes. In the middle of my writing, just as the groove was hitting, I received a phone call from "Unknown." Unfortunately one of the responsibilities of my job is that I need to take absolutely every call. With a great sigh, I hit the pause button and reached out for my phone.

It's a junk call. Some useless thing about heart scans because of where I live. I wait the requisite amount of seconds before hanging up and turning back to my manuscript. In the last few minutes, my (bad) writing has been stripped of its vowels. Now, to be fair, this is less than 300 words, but my few seconds had turned into a minute or two, because most of the page had been torn asunder. My heart sank. I copied the mangled words and quickly rushed them to another document before inspecting the damage.

This is what it looked like after Kamikaze mode had finished up with it: 

He took one last look at the towers, searching for the erratic shadows, then plunged off the set path.

The temperature instantly dropped, rendering his processors inactive as he dropped through the darkness. He was just able t wtch s hs lmbs szd p nd hs thghts trnd t mck. Th rshng r flld vrythng, ccphny f srng wnds. Th plts tht cvrd hs bdy rttld s h srchd th drknss fr nythng.

Bsd hm, th twrs wr th nly cnstntly, mpssbly lng slbs f stn tht hd dtld lns crvd ll thrgh thm. As h plmmtd, th stnwrk bcm lss nd lss dstnct s th nky blcknss rchd t, wrppng hs lmbs nd bscrng ny dtls. Th bs f th twr smd t b grwng clsr, s f th bs hd bn wdr t th bttm, whttld dwn t th pnt tht std hgh bv tht cntr ln. XAV brcd hmslf s h t nrd. Aftr nthr mmnt, hs rm scrpd gnst th stn, sttng ff fnt trl f sprks. XAV’s rm szd, thn bncd ff th twr, thgh h kpt hs sm trjctry.

Smthng scrmd n th drknss, mvd, ts mmnsty mpssbl t clclt. Th r shftd, chngd ts qlty nc mr, nd sddnly th cld hd rtrtd. XAV trd t mv hs fngrs s hs prcssrs rtrnd t lf wth th slght rprv f th cld. Bfr t cld clm hm nc mr, h rchd t nd grbbd hld f th stn. Hs fngrs slppd, bt t ws ngh t ptch hmslf wy frm t nt th drknss nc mr. H prmd hmslf s nthr twr pprd nd h
— Write or Die 2

As I'm sure you can see, this is indistinguishable trash. Rather than be discouraged, I instantly jumped into this tangle of consonants and began extrapolating. After about thirty, forty minutes, I was able to recover it to a reasonable enough degree. I was even able to do the slightest bit of editing to clean this up, but tried to keep the initial work in tact, since you really don't want to switch on that part of your brain until it's absolutely necessary.

As should be no surprise to any of you, I have not gone back to Write or Die 2 just yet. If anything, I think I'm going to revert back to Write or Die 1, with its harder, but more stable platform. If you're not as insane as I am, there are options to throw a popup onscreen or show something like giant spiders jumping out of the screen. However, these are just distractions for me. If I'm going to shirk my writing responsibility, then I'm going to be punished for it and I will learn.

At least I should . . .

Sandra Gregson, Ulysses, 2010, Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid

Sandra Gregson, Ulysses, 2010, Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.