Baseline

I was running late, damn it, squeezing me into a travel-dilemma box.

Walking to my destination was out because I’d already used my baseline oxygen, and was into tier two pricing. Tier two pushed up the O2 price to one hundred twenty-five percent of my baseline use cost. If you think that’s not bad, you must be Free. As worried as tier two pricing makes me, tier three jumps up to two hundred percent. Say, “Ow,” brother, and kiss the budget good-bye. If you think this is more about punishing me for using too much oxygen instead of profit-taking, you’re wrong.

I was going too far to walk, anyway. Realistically, my choices were surface vehicle, hover-car, or teleporting. I’d normally be porting to this function, because I’m going to be drinking. Salud! Embedded in the Pleasure Taxes that just went live, though, is language about being drunk in public. Surface cars and hover cars are included in that, even if you’re not driving them.

Porting, though, was out, because I’d exceeded my baseline on that, too, and was firmly advanced into tier two pricing. This sucks on a major level. Of course, it’s my cats’ fault.

As others have found, cats love teleporters. No one knows why. Premier Teleporting, the company I lease my teleporter from at home, says it’s not possible, but the net is rich with tales of cats porting into places.

I’ve had it happen, so I know it’s not just alternate news. No, it doesn’t make sense. The porters have security and fail-safes. They’re synced to your neck chip, right? Without that chip, the porter is supposed to remain inactive. Yet, cat after cat manages to enter teleporters and pop up elsewhere. My own cats, Hizzhonor and Herheinie, have followed me into bars, stores, restaurants, and work. Each time, I’m charged for their use, but then I need to port them home. It’s happened three times this month alone. It sucks.

Which doesn’t solve this problem, except, remembering the issue, I took the two kitties into the bedroom, refreshed their food and water, and bribed them with catnip and treats before locking them in there.

Then I checked my porting app. I was already close to tier three pricing. Projections based on the distance, my size, and the time of day, indicated my return trip would tip me into tier three pricing. Drinking a beer, I mourned the situation, and decided on impulse, fuck it.

This was no way for someone to live. Announcing, “Fuck it,” to the teleporting unit as a surrogate for the company, I continued with bravado, “Baseline this,” and held up two index fingers at the machine.

And then, checking the time right before stepping into the teleporter, I realized that I’d eaten up most of my baseline leisure time for that night. Going out now would push me into tier two pricing for the evening. I did the maths. Party multipliers would kick in because of the crowd size and congregation tax. Then there was the alcohol surcharge….

Forget about sex. I couldn’t afford sex that night.

The maths didn’t work. As much as I craved society, and relaxing with a drink and friends, it was too pricey for tonight. Releasing the cats from their captivity, I checked my alcohol consumption baseline and confirmed I had some breathing room there. 

Just fourteen days left in the month, and all my baselines would be reset. Until then…I settled in to surf the net and shop online.

At least that remained free.

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The Plan du Jour

Plans must be made every day. They’re compartmented by activity. They’re all based on what’s been done, and the overall goals, objectives, mission, and visions.

This is a product of my military years. Make lists, prioritize, structure and plan, hup – two – threp – four. About the only thing in my life exempt from planning is this blog. The blog is just a lark, a creative outlet, a place to vent and rant, and a channel for improving my knowledge, sparking my thinking, and making connections. Everything else is serious.

Writing is especially serious, even as it’s fun. A plan is required or an organic writer like me. The most critical part to remember about having a plan is that it’s a tool to help organize and progress. Trying to make the perfect plan is counter-productive, unless you’re murdering someone or robbing someplace. In just about everything else, it’s sufficient to have a sketchy plan.

When I’m writing the story, the story writes the plan. My novels typically begin with a concept or a setting. Ideas volunteer and find roots.

But writing is like vehicular traffic for me; everything causes a reaction. Implications, issues, conflicts, and outcomes arise. Plans are needed. Some of that planning is researching aspects to provide more depth and realism. Other planning is simply developing concepts and character background. Characters often leap into action on a page. I accept that, but to carry the story forward and keep it honest, I need to know that character. So, off I go, into a character snapshot. Some of that ends up in the novel as exposition. It depends upon the material and story. Even if I include it at that point, it can be removed later. It depends upon the arc, relevance, and pacing.

Writing and walking work well together. My mind can pick up where I left off writing the story on the last session and resume that thread preparatory to beginning a new day of writing like crazy. Reading and writing works well for me, too. Reading fuels my creativity, invigorates my desires, and reinforces my will, all good things while on a novel-writing journey.

All of this is less so with editing and revising.

In editing and revising, I already have the raw material that writing provided. The characters are established; so is the plot. The research has been completed, for the most part, and the results are embedded in the story.

I can say that research is completed for the most part. Sometimes while writing, I’ll put in some shorthand about something require greater detail, clarification, or verification that I’m not completely wrong about what I think and have based my novel decision upon. I use the shorthand because I’m in the writing rhythm and don’t want to divert myself from that path. I mark these places with <TK> and some explanation about what I wanted for there, and why. These might need research at that point. Sometimes, though, I find the research has been completed and used elsewhere. Sometimes I find that what I thought was needed there is no longer required. I go with the flow as I see it.

An editing and revising plan then evolves more into finishing the novel as a coherent and entertaining story that others can read and enjoy. I sit down to edit and revise with a goal of completing thirty pages each day. It’s just like running miles for me, or walking; having a specific objective keeps me focused on the overall course. That objective, though, isn’t the goal, and I don’t confuse the two. Editing and revising the book remains the goal for this phase of the vision. The vision is a completed, published novel.

Thirty pages is a somewhat arbitrary distinction. I often exceed that. Once in a while, I’ll fall short.

Reaching thirty pages a day is neither easy, nor difficult. It depends upon the work presented. Some of it’s already been significantly revised, edited and polished, because part of my process as an organic writer is to edit and revise as I write the novel. These sort of passages are a pleasure to edit and revise because they’re so easy. The biggest problems I encounter are writing butt and becoming complacent. Writing butt is, of course, when you’ve been sitting for so long, your ass has gone numb. Since I often have my head up my ass, this can have serious health ramifications for breathing and thinking. Complacency is when I stop thinking critically about what I’m reading.

Beyond this basic plan and structure for editing, sometimes, in the course of reading what’s been written, I’ll draw up short. Something does not align with what was previously read, or what I recall writing later in the novel. At that point, I have options.

My options depend on how big I view this mis-alignment, i.e., how disturbing or surprising I find it, and it’s influence on the rest of the plot and novel. Sometimes, it appears to me to be so large that it becomes a plan to resolve this difference. Other times, it’s smaller and I simply make a note to review and resolve. A few times, the flawed connection has arrived because I just read that part. Then, I’ll flip back to it quickly, confirm my facts, and continue. A few times, it’ll be something like a planet, ship, or secondary character’s name. When that happens, I’ll verify, and then completed a global search and replace.

With all plans, as learned in the military, it’s about mission accomplishment. What is my vision, and how does completing my mission support it? In writing a novel, it’s pretty damn simple and clear.

Now, excuse me. I have a plan to go edit and revise, at least one more time.

What about you? Do you have a plan du jour?

 

Looking In

Looking in the mirror

reveals the father’s old man face

but smiling shows the young boy

and the youth I knew was me

Today’s Theme Music

It’s a funky Friday, perfect for those funky musicians, Sly and the Family Stone.

This was a perfect song to sing along when I was thirteen in nineteen sixty-nine. It’s even better now as a joyful anthem for an adult. Still, there were always questions about what in the world was he actually singing. I spent time when that song came on, to pause and listen, trying to decode the lyrics. They still don’t make a sense to me, but I still love them:

Stiff all in the collar
Fluffy in the face
Chit chat chatter tryin’
Stuffy in the place
Thank you for the party
But I could never stay
Many thangs is on my mind
Words in the way

Other lyrics made perfect, beautiful poetic sense to me:

Flamin’ eyes of people fear
Burnin’ into you
Many men are missin’ much
Hatin’ what they do
Youth and truth are makin’ love
Dig it for a starter, now
Dyin’ young is hard to take
Sellin’ out is harder

h/t to MetroLyrics

Let’s get funky with “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again).” It was years before I learned the correct title and the reveal that it was a mondegreen. So sue me; I was a kid.

 

 

 

Flooffle

Flooffle (Catfinition): Cats’ shuffle between sleeping locations, usually when one goes and sleeps in the spot vacated by another, requiring the first cat to find a new place. Flooffling is often associated with the quest to find the floof-spot.

In Use: “When the door opened, Papi rose, stretched, and trotted over to see what was going on. Meanwhile, Boo flooffled over to Papi’s vacated spot, sat down, and began washing, preparing for his nap.”

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