As the Storm Approaches

Our weekend was dominated by our efforts to prepare for our relocation, scheduled to take place next Wednesday. It’s an odd day to move, I concede, but my atypical schedule sort of dictates a lot of unusual timelines. At this point, I’m more or less used to it. Of course the mid-week move comes with a particular limitation in terms of availability of free or cheap assistance in the manual labor department so I’m rolling the dice a bit and agreeing to allow mercenary strangers to pitch in for a set hourly rate. Including these types of miscreants in the process is something I’m familiar with: My very first job when I was sixteen was on the other side of this equation as I traveled up and down the west coast hoisting people’s weighty belongings into and out of a trailer. I can’t say my experiences there offer a lot of solace for the upcoming transaction.

In any case my best laid plans vis a vis this humble blog have been frequently marginalized or downright derailed lately. My queue of “drafts” is expansive and many are unlikely to see the light of day at this point having lost their sense of immediacy. As I said last month after a suggestion toward a future post evaporated into a procrastination-induced void followed by a limp apology, I don’t usually like to promise things: Either I post or I don’t. Posting about what I plan to post about is dull and fraught with the peril of my own well-intentioned but markedly lazy execution. Be that as it may, I do feel compelled to say that while there is no guarantee, I am considering introducing a series of short fiction entries here.

My rationale is that I’d very much like to finally complete a longer fiction piece but, as I alluded to above, I don’t have the best track record in terms of follow-through. I always have a catalog of excuses but principal among them is a certain fear that my lack of fiction-writing experience will sully the entire thing. When I first began I wanted to just have a place to write something—anything. Over the last six years I’ve been more or less consistent with writing on a regular basis, a practice advice-givers are keen to impart on fledgling writers. Now that I’ve gotten to that point I feel it’s time to start focusing that into something practical that is in line with my longer term goals.

There are two elements really at work here. One is that I desire feedback and while doesn’t have much in the way of a broad audience, it does at least have a convenient feedback mechanism in the comments. The other is that I need practice in exercising certain writing practices that my blogging-style writing doesn’t typically address. I’m talking about the more pure creativity necessary for creation of characters and settings, focusing on pace and voicing and—this is the key item—editing. It may be painfully obvious but I do very, very little editing of my own work on ironSoap. Most posts are stream-of-consciousness ramblings that get posted nearly as they tumble out of my brain, through my fingers and into the edit pane. I don’t worry about it too much now, because I feel a loose conversational style is acceptable in the format. However, I’d never want anything that felt like a creative expression to be that casual in feel and presentation.

So my solution was to try and get some short fiction out as a series of trial runs. I’m not sure when all this will take place, I suppose opportunity and drive will dictate it, but if you see something here that doesn’t feel like a typical “Paul’s Brain Dump” kind of post, that’s probably it.

Meanwhile, a dump from my brain. Natch.

  • As much as I advocate the use and proliferation of RSS, I’m starting to feel that it’s being abused. My chief complaint is the newish trend of submitting design elements along with the data. The most nefarious offender I encounter is Xbox Live’s Major Nelson who sends enough extraneous data to rebuild his entire post (including comments) with each entry. Listen to me: You’re doing it wrong and you’re missing the point. I was okay when RSS feeds started having a single image accompanying them and I let it slide when ads started being sent with feed content (I understand the economics of blogging and content creation) but this is over the line. My other complaint is sort of the flip side of that which is feeds that include a headline and nothing else but a link to the full story on the site itself, as seen with ESPN’s NHL feed. No. Give me at least a bit of teaser text so I know if the link is worth following. That’s the point of RSS: To have content that interests me delivered the way I want it. I don’t need a “new post notification” tool.
  • In related griping: I loathe Netvibes Ginger. It’s buggy, it’s got useless “features” and it takes four stupid clicks to add a new RSS feed to a page. What? No. You’re doing it wrong. I’d use iGoogle instead except it doesn’t have a read/unread feature for its feed displays, which I find invaluable based on the sheer volume of feeds I subscribe to.
  • I’ve tried to avoid posting about the Sharks. I do it every playoffs and all it really accomplishes is raising my blood pressure. But you know what? Heck with it. Something has to be said. Here it is:
    Hey Sharks. What's up?
  • What made me crazy watching last night’s game (other than the fact that it wasn’t in HD and the “Comcast Sports Net” SD feed looks like it’s filmed on a consumer-priced VHS camcorder from the early 80s) was the interview with Tim Hunter prior to the third period. At this point the Sharks are down by two goals and have played miserable, abysmal hockey for forty minutes. So they ask, “What do you guys need to do?” Tim Hunter acts like they got a couple of bad breaks and says they need to win a few more one-on-one battles and do a little more hitting. No. I’m tired of Wilson and company standing over there like wax sculptures while the most talented team in hockey plays like they’re at an off-season exhibition fan meet-n-greet. We know the Sharks are good. There’s no excuses this time: The run to the playoffs is what the Sharks are capable of. This entire series has been a crushing disappointment and the coaches act like they’re some team of destiny. There. Are. No. Teams. Of. Destiny. Wake those fools up. Bench Thornton. Healthy scratch Michalek. Drop McLaren off in downtown Oakland and drive away. I don’t care. The fact that the Sharks are still in the playoffs is a miracle I can’t fully explain but if anyone in that organization actually wants a Stanley Cup they’re going to have to play like they did for the last two minutes of game five from here on out. Period. Personally, I’m sick of wanting the team to win more than the coaches and players actually do.
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