Today is a good day…

A while back, I was talking with a fellow Okayer, NightOwl, about COPD, of which she said “You have good days and you have bad days” and for the last couple of months, I’ve had way more bad days. This really makes me appreciate the good ones all the more — while I tend to suspect that recently, the problem has been with barometric pressure and high humidity, I have no way of learning this with any certainty and even if I did, there isn’t much I could do to compensate. At one time, I had an industrial-strength dehumidifier and was removing maybe a gallon of water a night from this little 16×16′ bedroom, but this had no effect.

Yet on warm, sunny, dry days like today is turning out to be, I feel good enough to get up and move around a little, get a few things done. Lately, I’ve had a tremendous amount of help, too. Besides just hiring a mutual friend of my brother and I, I’ve also had a volunteer from Catholic Community Services coming by for three hours a week to help me with housework (and who does an absolutely brilliant job of it) as well as having my brother and sister in law down to help out for the last week.

Upshot being that my new desk/bookshelf/computer set up is now assembled and in place in my room (this chair is SO comfortable), the gutters and roof are clean, the yard is mowed and landscaped and the upstairs rugs have all been steam cleaned.

My principle contribution has been to stay out of the way.

I also had a lovely visit with one of my oldest and dearest friends, whom I’m always glad to see (unfortunately, it happens that I wasn’t in the greatest shape when they got here, but it can’t be helped).

Besides my guests, however, the truth is just that I really haven’t had that much to say. I’ve been paying modest attention to events in MENA and the debate over deficits and the budget ceiling. The former is too depressing and the latter too ridiculous to even contemplate, however.

Suffice it to say that I have, however, still been doing a lot of reading and lately, even a lot of writing, again. While I won’t mention it further until it’s complete, I have a novel that I began working on about three years ago and would like to finish and publish here in serialized form. I’ve been contemplating something similar for about a year; it feels like cheating. That said, it would at least let me post the thing one chapter at a time once a week, automatically. All of which assumes that at some point I work out an ending that I’m completely satisfied with and then finish writing the stupid thing (the former, I believe, is the bigger challenge for me).

Anyhow. Thanks for wasting your time on this treacle and here’s hoping that you manage to find another blog with actual content to compensate for the IQ points you’ve shed here.

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  • Comments (11)
    • Jane Wheeler
    • July 1st, 2011

    sunshine is so important. glad to hear you have friends and family to help out.
    looking forward to seeing the chapters .. ((((Max))))

      • Max Bell
      • July 1st, 2011

      Not much point in having a blog if the only things that ever get posted to it are excuses for not posting.

      The help is great; when it gets too far behind, I feel bad because while I can’t do much of it one way or the other, I feel like it’s because I’m not lazy (or at least I do while I’m sitting and can actually breathe). At present, I’m far enough ahead that I won’t have to worry about this reoccurring for some time.

      And naturally, the story is still a long ways off from being finished. I only mentioned it because I did finally start writing it and recently have spent considerable time doing so, which is another excuse for not posting to my blog.

    • Laroquod
    • July 2nd, 2011

    I believe that you should totally serialise this novel — why not? — and I don’t see how it would be cheating. Because it’s written in advance or something? Tons of people write their blog posts in advance. I had someone tell me once, ‘I have wrote a blog post about you and it will be published on [names a date three weeks in the future].’

    Anyway, hope you get lots more of them good weather days, Max. It’s pretty hard to use your brain on days when your body’s treading water.

      • Max Bell
      • July 2nd, 2011

      Oh, I actually meant that posting it to a blog, as opposed to attempting to collect rejection letters with it, feels like cheating… Except that I don’t have time for that process. I have to admit, in recent months I’ve been heavily influenced by my impression of the publishing industry by Cherie Priest, who is very up-front about contemporary literary sausage-making. She grinds through astronomical word counts that she dismisses as insufficient efforts, a day gig of unspecified (that I know of) nature, as well as the touring/mandatory con presence etc…

      And every time I think about the subject at all, I find myself revisiting my paternal grandfather whom I suspect took up writing in part as a swipe at me (the combative relationship I’d had with that part of my family was always melting down). I believe he only accepted a couple of rejections before he decided that he would self-publish until he was discovered, somehow, and actually produced some 50-60 books of 80-120 pages or so, each.

      Hand-printed on a mimeograph, no less.

      To the best of my ability, I gently attempted to persuade him to read “The Writer’s Guide” and some of the essays in it, but he refused, steadfastly convinced that the publishing industry was just too myopic to recognize that his work was on par with the Reader’s Digest Condensed series (which was overwhelmingly his selection in recreational reading).

      And its not that I’m somehow enamored of the publishing industry or think that self-publishing is of lesser value in some respect, merely that I wanted to attempt to get it published by traditional means as a tribute and as a playful if post-humous swipe BACK at him.

      Certainly, I applaud his effort to finally follow his dream after all those years, but to have used the exercise as a segue to pissing on mine… If I ever finish the fucking thing, I am absolutely dedicating it to him.

    • Laroquod
    • July 3rd, 2011

    Well that’s a bag of rocks. For some perspective — no one in my family is literary at all. I was the first to even go to college, and I wasn’t supposed to get all literary from that — I was supposed to learn to be super successful by internalised and adopting a completely unethical personal financial philosophy; i.e. I was supposed to join the big leagues. So they don’t get it; they don’t get anything I do. Can’t even explain it to them: no point in trying, I just get blank looks. But they *can* judge — oh they are well-tutored at that, particularly in the total absence of any experience or knowledge of the subjects at hand.

    My family is a total blank to me creatively and except for one uncle, perhaps, they never even see anything I do creatively, and if they did, they simply wouldn’t understand it. So I have some meagre financial help at times because lucky for me they are Portuguese and don’t believe in NOT helping; but emotionally there is exactly zero support for any artist’s concerns; people in my family do not understand the quest I am no; are completely ignorant of the quest that I am on artistically which is so important to me that I would literally give my life for it (and probably will have, when you tally up the health costs of living as I do). Thus when I die, it’s very likely nobody at the funeral will have the slightest clue of the ideals of philosophies for which I had even lived. To them I’ll just be an odd family member who never really did any *important* like have an RRSP or birth children.

    • Laroquod
    • July 3rd, 2011

    If there’s any way you could delete that last comment, I would appreciate it. Reading it again a little later, I suddenly sound like a selfish git. 87

      • Max Bell
      • July 3rd, 2011

      Then my own reply didn’t post for some reason… And what’s wrong with being selfish? If you were selfless, there wouldn’t be much of anyone for me to be talking to, would there?

        • Laroquod
        • July 3rd, 2011

        Alright, leave it up. Might as well leave the extent of my self-involvement for posterity. It’s pretty much necessary to think yourself into your own little cocoon where I am at right now.

    • Max Bell
    • July 3rd, 2011

    Well, you don’t need me to tell you that that blows, but then I think for most people, if you can get along with your family well enough to avoid alienating one another then you should count yourself lucky and leave it at that, but in many cases, it’s just an unavoidable and occasionally destructive enforced, intimate relationship that’s best written off to cut losses at the first opportunity.

    As often as I run into people who seem to believe that a happy family life is somehow something that one is simply entitled to, I can’t help but suspect that the belief is predicated on magical thinking derived from the decidedly false belief that this is the norm for the average family. In my experience, it’s very much the exception, with many that would give this impression doing so on a completely cosmetic level.

    No, at the end of the day, I’m doing this because I can’t stand the idea of leaving it unfinished, not to belittle dead relatives who no longer exist to even be aware that such a thing had occurred. Which is not to say that I’m above indulging myself an emotional miscue and copping to an irrational and modestly mean-spirited pettiness over a long forgotten and immaterial slight.

    On the plus side, I did just finish writing a “disposable” outline of about twelve pages that will, in turn, allow me to produce a more compact ten-point synopsis that maps out the story’s major plot-points and allows one to gauge narrative pacing by breaking it into four acts. The significance here is simply that in doing so, I was finally able to produce a satisfying conclusion to my story (which had always been vague, even by the second draft) as well as address issues of pacing in the last third of the book. I should be happier with the result but I guess I’m a little tired, now. Suffice it to say, however, that this was, at least from the standpoint of excuses for procrastination, the last barrier to actually finishing the stupid thing.

    If you write at all? This (http://bit.ly/kt9mZw) is the most useful tool I found since I began researching this book (the second is “Rands 10% Solution”, which covers self-editing as a function of using search and replace to identify certain over-used words and phrases that will leave a manuscript needlessly wordy and obtuse — DM me an email address if you like and I’ll send you a copy). The third is http://www.fakenamegenerator.com/ — which is great, because I suck at inventing realistic-sounding names and this will generate them for you based on census info AND allows you to generate names based on ethnicity — it will even invent a modest internet history for them if you want to use it to create sock puppets or something…

      • Laroquod
      • July 3rd, 2011

      I don’t usually have that much of a problem coming up with names, at least not since I came up with my own sort of idiosyncratic system for that some time ago. (Dungeon Mastering will do that for you, lol.) It sounds like this tool is about more than just the names though — I’ll have a look!

        • Max Bell
        • July 3rd, 2011

        In an attempt to come up with ethnicity-appropriate names for a largely North American population circa 2077, one of the names I wound up with was “Joao Palmer”, which I kept as a placeholder all this time but can’t actually stand. The nice thing about http://www.fakenamegenerator.com/ is that I can specify “US” with a hispanic or arabic ethnicity and then generate a collection of names, then second-guess how common a given name is based on how frequently it turns up (some of us are Mikes; some of us are Darcys).

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