Archive for November, 2002

I can’t believe I wrote the whole thing…

Saturday, November 30th, 2002

Word count: 52,000

NaNoWriMo 2002 Winner

Well, it’s over. I lost a lot of sleep, and I wrote a lot of garbage. I had to write 2,500 words today because of a major disagreement between my word count algorithm and the official one. The extra 2,000 were the hardest words of all - I was all set to goof off and play with Java, catch up on my blogging, and generally have a life again, and instead I had to go back and crank out more intermediate scene material.

It’s a very rough draft. The word count is, technically, enough for a novel but it’s too low to get published. It’s not an issue of insufficient plot - my work of NaNo is more outline than novel. There’s still almost no description in there. It could practically be a screenplay, there’s so much dialogue and so little of anything else, but that’s a good for a draft since the plot is all down on virtual paper.

I have one POV character, so I thought early on that I should switch to first person. I didn’t at the time because of the extra work and the tight timeframe. That gives me a direction to go in for the first revision.

But first, fanfic!

So Close…

Friday, November 29th, 2002

Word count: 49,475

I can’t believe I wrote so many bad words today. I’ll have to finish tomorrow, though. One can excuse only so much continuous anti-social NaNoing over one holiday weekend.

The Cranberry Holiday

Thursday, November 28th, 2002

Word count: no comment

Cranberries are local, native, and semi-inedible. They’re an acquired taste—a bit pointless, unless you’ve learned to appreciate them. Most cranberries come from the Ocean Spray cranberry growers cooperative. On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for cranberries.

Jay Leno was just saying that Thanksgiving is an ideal holiday—you eat, you watch TV, you fall asleep. There’s no controversial content to Turkey Day—no presents, no guilt, no fasting, and, to quote Douglas Adams, nobody had to get nailed to anything.

I’ve been thinking, as the lights come on and the SUV’s drive by with dead evergreens tied to their tops, about how little the trappings of Christmas have to do with Christ. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, has such a low content level that it’s hard to miss it. You eat the appropriate harvest foods and be thankful about it. If you know anything about Pilgrims, you know they didn’t believe in freedom of religion. They tossed people out of the Massachusetts Bay colony just for suggesting that freedom of religion might be a nice thing. So there’s no need to feel either patriotic about our freedoms, or doubtful about our patriotism. Thanksgiving is just about having survived the year to date, and all my readers can feel grateful for that much. It’s a very accessible holiday.

And nobody had to get nailed to anything.

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Wednesday, November 27th, 2002

Word count: 41,000

It was white in Boston today, not good weather for the biggest travel day of the year. I skipped out of work early to catch the bus to Fall River. Now I’m dialing up from a rotary line, of all things - but the trusty mac can do it. The mac can do anything. Neither snow nor sleet nor whatever the other stuff was…

Thanksgiving is when the Christmas decorations start coming out, and in honor of Sylvia’s J/C Christmas Contest, Jade’s story Hope has been dressed up in snowflakes. I’d dress up my old J/C non-Christmas story, but I’ve spent too much time hacking the CSS for one day. Snowflakes are compliments of Pat’s Web Graphics.

Liz immortalized me in a LiveJournal icon:
Jemima quote

The Sound of One Wing Flapping

Tuesday, November 26th, 2002

New at Zendom: A Fandom Thanksgiving.

New at Jemima’s Trek: Jade’s new Awesome Artist Award for a lovely Janeway sketch is up. She also has a story forthcoming for Sylvia’s J/C Christmas contest.


Monday, November 25th, 2002

Word count: 38,000

I know it’s two weeks late, but because it’s still November and sinat hinam never goes out of style, here are some links about Kristallnacht and related topics:

Williams Syndrome

Sunday, November 24th, 2002

Word count: 33,390 (two-thirds done!)

I forgot to mention one bit of weird cognitive science I ran across in The Einstein Syndrome - Williams syndrome. The author mentioned it as an example of his theory of brain resources getting unequally used, which would allow his Einstein syndrome children to read with an overstocked area of the brain, but not speak because that area had been temporarily shortchanged.

In Williams syndrome the symptoms are opposite, and the shortchanging is permanent. Children with the syndrome display precocious linguistic and social skills, being able to work a room like a miniature politician. However, such children have very low IQ’s (the example Sowell gave was 49), and often cannot read above the first-grade level or live independently.

Sowell quotes a Dr. Ursula Bellugi: “What makes Williams syndrome so fascinating is it shows that the domains of cognition and language are quite separate.” You wouldn’t quite know that from Einstein syndrome because those children eventually do learn to speak normally. It’s a cool brain fact, isn’t it?

Einstein Syndrome II

Saturday, November 23rd, 2002

Word count: aaarrrrrgh!

It turned out that someone I know was mentioned in The Einstein Syndrome - no one you’d ever think had a “syndrome” in his youth. For all I know, I could have had it. My mother doesn’t even remember when I started talking, and I doubt she had her eyes on the toddler development chart at the time. Who noticed, until very recently, whether their children progressed from single words, to phrases, to full sentences exactly on schedule?

Sowell’s book made me glad to have grown up before Ritalin and peanut allergies and the autism epidemic, when they left us more or less alone. Now there are experts waiting to drag your children away into classes for the autistic, when the only problem is that they read English better than they speak it. The experts mentioned in the book were usually unwilling to take the parents’ first-hand experiences of their own children into account. The Vision of the Anointed was about that sort of thing, but on a wider scale than just one frequently-misdiagnosed childhood syndrome.

One endearing (to me) quality of the children with Einstein syndrome was their frequent refusal to obey the experts. They would refuse to answer questions or jump through hoops, and the semi-professional evaluators would mark down that they didn’t know the answer, or couldn’t jump through the hoop. In fact, Sowell never makes it entirely clear whether late-talking children cannot talk at an earlier age, or simply will not talk until they’re good and ready to. He gave examples of children who were overheard practicing words in secret before they would speak them in public - toddler perfectionists, as it were.

Einstein Syndrome

Thursday, November 21st, 2002

Word count: let’s not and say we did

I stopped by a bookstore on my way home tonight to look for The Einstein Syndrome by Thomas Sowell. I’d been doing research about another childhood psychological problem with which I’d callously afflicted one of my novel’s main characters when I surfed into Sowell’s book. I’d read one of his books before - The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy - so I was intrigued to see him writing on such an unrelated topic. Like the other book I bought, Gifts Differing, it was something I would have borrowed if the Boston Public Library hadn’t managed to “lose” all its circulating copies of both books. I could have bought a whole shelf at Buck-a-Book for what those two books cost, but they’re not the sort of book that gets remaindered.

I had to work to get the book, too. I found it listed in the kiosk computer catalog as being in stock in the bookstore, but there was no shelf that fit the location given (Psychology - Family - Child Psychology). I asked one of the staff - let’s call her Retail Girl - and she went back to the staff kiosk and asked another of the staff (Retail Guy). I followed a little behind, but I was just in time to hear Retail Guy tell Retail Girl that the section was upstairs. She, however, wanted to look it up for me in her special staff kiosk computer catalog, and her computer said it wasn’t in stock.

When it comes to a choice between what I retrieved from a computer and what some random Retail Girl retrieved from a computer, I trust myself. It may sound snobbish, but considering that I was writing Basic before Retail Girl was writing English and that I had noticed the not-yet-published paperback version of the book listed under an entirely different section (Family and Education - Child Psychology), I decided to give Retail Guy’s directions a shot. So I went away in apparent despair, but turned at the escalator and checked out the second floor. There was indeed a Family - Child Psychology section there, and fortunately I knew to look around the autism books. Presto! So I got to blow $25 on the book despite the best efforts of Retail Girl to help me.

But I digress. Einstein syndrome refers to smart children who start talking significantly later than other toddlers, to the point where some can even read before they can talk. Sometimes they’re misdiagnosed with autism or attention deficit disorder. (It sounds to me like it’s related to Asperger’s Syndrome.) Sowell had a son with the Einstein syndrome; he wrote an earlier book about his son and others like him (Late-Talking Children) which was criticized for being anecdotal. This work is his scientific evidence.

I love comparative genetics and weird cognitive science; if I could only work more of that into the novel I wouldn’t be 5,000 words behind.

The Big Seven

Wednesday, November 20th, 2002

Word count: 30,000 (three-fifths done)

Last night when I was hard up for subplots, Dr. Deb suggested the Seven Deadly Sins. They are: vanity, envy, gluttony, lust, wrath, avarice, and sloth. I got a subplot immediately out of envy, or possibly jealousy. I’ve already used gluttony for the main plot. I don’t really know what people mean by pride, and when you call it vanity instead it seems more sinful, but less deadly.

The sin that afflicts my characters most seriously is the author’s sloth. The poor things don’t even have hair colors yet. It’s very unwise to get behind, and here I am, 2,000 words behind going on 4,000 in about ten minutes. Yet I’m suffering a severe attack of laziness and chronic sleepiness.

I vote for procrastination as the eighth deadly sin. It’s the sloth that keeps on giving…