“People used to ask me why my books sold well. I told them, 'Because we live in bad times.'”
Michael Moorcock

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

The unicorn looking on is Velvet. He's been with me almost all my life, and he likes to be included in things.
outmoded, inconvenient, messy, elegant, satisfying
Wed 2015-07-15 23:37:55 (single post)
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Pictured here is my second-hand typewriter, a Sears Tower which appears to be identical to the 1950s-era portable Smith-Corona Sterling. I bought it from a co-worker back in the late '90s. Then, upon my lamenting that it had features I'd no idea how to use, I was sent a copy of the Sterling's owners' manual by a Usenet acquaintance who guessed my typewriter was largely the same as his. (This was before it was trivial to find PDFs of owners' manuals of just about everything online--though, admittedly, I haven't found the exact document my friend sent me. This is the closest match I've located. My typewriter doesn't have those CL and SET buttons on the right.) That gift empowered me to use the ingenious Page Gage (sic) feature to get consistent bottom margins every time. It's a seriously clever thing.

Five years ago, this typewriter was instrumental in drafting the first recognizable version of "First Breath." This week it'll be key in fulfilling some long overdue Patreon pledge rewards. I owe two, soon to be three "fictionettes in your mailbox" to my $5+ tier patron. This is where, at the end of the month, I type out one of the month's fictionettes, correct some of the typos with white-out, watercolor and scribble and sketch on it, and send it off with my thanks.

At the moment, I am offering this thank-you to the first ten $5+ patrons. That may have been overly optimistic. I am thinking of lowering that maximum to five. A thousand words feels a lot longer on a typewriter than on a laptop. Accordingly, I find myself sometimes revising on the fly and cutting out phrases that no longer seem absolutely necessary. Or rearranging phrases because I got ahead of myself and I am not going back to correct it.

Also, mastering the Dvorak keyboard layout seems to have come at the expense of being able to touch-type in Qwerty. So I do a lot of looking up and looking down between the computer screen and the typewriter keys and the typewriter output, and losing my place in the original document, and shit there went the 1-inch marker on the Page Gage about two lines ago, I guess the bottom margin is going to be a little smaller than planned...

I'm not really complaining. I'm just griping. The difference is, complaints are meant to be actionable but griping is only recreational. I don't seriously want not to do this. I'm enjoying the exercise--reacquainting myself with the typewriter, producing a literary artifact, enjoying the messy elegance of the results (it's not the most precise instrument, this Tower), and creating a physical object as a token of my appreciation. And sending it in the mail! Having an excuse to mail physical letters is wonderful. It's inconvenient and outmoded and I love it. I'm in love with the written word in all its forms. Look, I do my morning pages with a fountain pen. Of course I love the typewriter and the U.S. Post.

Anyway, I intend to finish the May mailable tonight and maybe produce tomorrow the one that was due at the end of June. That'll will put me back on track in time to type up the July mailable at the end of the month. Huzzah! Getting caught up is the best!

next time please super-size my pleasant summer day meal deal
Tue 2015-06-02 23:18:48 (single post)
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Today was one of those fresh summer days that wants to come in through every window. I opened up the patio door and the office window, which have screens. I opened up the front door, which, oddly, doesn't; it has something I want to call a screen door, but it has no actual screens in it. It has three glass panels. I figured out how to slide one of them up, but, again, there's no screen. One must choose between air in or bugs out. One cannot have both, at least not until I install a screen or just replace the door.

Replacing the "screen" door would probably be fine. Its latch is broken, too, such that it's difficult to get it to latch shut from the inside and entirely impossible from the outside.

Nevermind! The fresh summer day came in by the patio door and the office window, and extra light came in by the not-really-a-screen-door, and I found the energy to get some household chores done. Laundry, dishes, taking out the recyclables. Topping off the bird feeder. Attempting to rescue spinach seedlings that got dug up in the night, probably by that jerk the squirrel. (Seriously, I need to just bring all the plants in overnight. This is ridiculous.)

I even took a rag and some lemon oil and my spinning wheel outside, and I made a first pass at cleaning off the storage unit grime. All the dust came off, but there are stubborn stains on the treadles, probably from years of having that little bottle of spinning wheel oil hanging upside and dripping onto them. Still, some progress was made. At least the poor thing is no longer gross to handle.

What I'd really like to do is invite fiber-geek friends over and have a little spin-in on that front patio. Now that the summer heat has reached us, it's no longer a dim and freezing cold dungeon. But it's not so full of sun as to be wearying, either. And I've got happy little shade-tolerant plants hanging out there, the decade-old spaths and the new baskets of impatiens and begonias. It would be lovely to sit out there and sip tea and spin yarn (literally) and also spin yarns (figuratively).

Alas, I didn't get to any spinning today. Nor the piano. Mostly I spent the afternoon fighting with Patreon's new input interface while turning "Because You Weren't There" into the May 2015 Fictionette Freebie. The new interface is, in theory, a great improvement over the old. Not only can you input rich text via HTML now, but you can also upload new attachments to, and change out the image of, an existing creation. (You couldn't do that before. I KNOW.) However, there's a bug such that depending on the click path you use to get to the edit interface, the "save" button might not actually save your changes. That is, if you click through to a single post view, and then click Edit, you're fine. But if you click the Edit button attached to the post where it appears as an item in your posts stream, it will be a no-go.

But the post I wanted to edit--the plain-text excerpt of the Fictionette--I had created through the Activity Stream interface rather than through the Creations interface. Which isn't a distinction that ought to matter, since the new interface files both of them under "Creator Posts" as opposed to "All Posts" (that is, posts you posted, or messages your Patrons posted to you). But it matters this much: Posts created under the Activity Stream rubric appear to no longer have an Edit button within the single post view. I can only get in to edit them via the button on the item in the posts stream. Which click path, as I said, leads to a non-functional Save Post button.

Also, have I mentioned that since the interface update, some Patron-only posts got set to Accessible By Everyone? And probably vice versa? Pardon me while I go double-check the status of every single item in my archive since September 2014. Whee.

Finally, after beating my head against that brick wall for far too long, I struck a compromise. I gave up on trying to edit the post, and just created a whole damn new one, with the full text in HMTL and the links to the PDF and MP3 and also the announcement that it was now free for all to download regardless of your pledge tier or Patron status. And I emailed Patreon's support staff with the bug report, which hopefully isn't too rambling for them to understand. The above two paragraphs should give an idea of whether I succeeded; the email was more rambling than that, I fear. Then, at last, I turned my attention to Other Matters.

Which, it being now an hour until I had to leave for roller derby practice, meant things like getting into my derby clothes, cooking myself dinner, packing up my skate gear, and things like that.

Here's hoping tomorrow's work day doesn't get whittled away by technological frustrations like today's did. And that I get all the things done. And still get time to spin yarn and practice piano and maybe play a little on Puzzle Pirates too. And read blogs. And go for a long walk around Sale Lake. And...

Optimism! It's what's for midnight snackies!

Original photography by me, playing in the dirt over by the soccer fields.
last week's fictionette and my week as an energy see-saw
Fri 2015-05-15 23:37:36 (single post)
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Hello! It is Friday and here is a Fictionette. It is last Friday's Fictionette, but here it is nevertheless. It is called "Because You Weren't There," and it's kind of creepy and kind of sweet and kind of mythic. Basically it's about benign necromancy as a random act of kindness.

As usual, the title above links to a brief excerpt; from there, if you're so inclined, you can click the links at the bottom of the page to become a Patron and read the whole thing, along with all Friday Fictionette archives to date.

I just realized I've been doing this for more than 6 months. I guess it's been more like 8 months? I totally missed my half-year anniversary, y'all!

As for this Friday's Fictionette, it's about toys, siblings, grandparents, and always looking on the bright side of life. (Cue the Monty Python soundtrack.) If I am very diligent, it will come out tomorrow afternoon. The Fictionette itself is very nearly done, so that just leaves the technical details of making the cover image and the PDF and the audio and excerpts that go in various places. Watch for an update to Twitter and Facebook when it goes live.

I am also going to go see the new Mad Max movie this weekend. Mad Max is part of my childhood, y'all. I am totally down with seeing the franchise expand. Also, I hear Charlize Theron's character is making misogynists cry. I want in on that.

The current daily schedule that I'm trying to stick to involves breaking up my daily work into a morning shift and an afternoon shift separated by a long lunch break during which non-writing obligations get done, leaving the evenings guilt-free for playtime and goofing off (and roller derby). The days when I stick to it go great. I get lots done, I feel awesome, and I get plenty of sleep because I'm not up until stupid o'clock trying to clean up my to-do list. The days when I don't kind of suck. I get nothing done and I feel depressed. (But at least, lately, I don't stay up until stupid o'clock on those days either, because I've learned that if I don't get enough sleep then guess what kind of day the next day will be?)

You'd think, given those two types of work days, the choice would be simple. "Cake or death?" "Cake, please." Right? Except the good, productive, diligent sort of day always seems to be followed by a day when I can't seem to get out of bed or get anything done once I do. I've had an upsy-downy sort of week that way, and it's frustrating. Like I only have enough energy to have a good work day every other day; the day afterwards is spent paying for it. If the rest of my life outside of writing could accommodate, I'd move to an every-other-day schedule in a heartbeat. But I really don't think my other obligations and activities will allow for it.

So for now, the only real solution I have for the low-energy days is to apply more willpower. And maybe keep a close eye on myself for any clues to making things easier.

But enough of that! Putting this week to bed now and looking forward to the weekend. Mad Max, roller derby, and getting caught up on Fictionettes--woo!

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