So I have a bunch of ideas for blog posts I’d like to write, and I’ll probably get around to them eventually, but I thought I’d drop a line now just to let you all know what I’ve been up to. It’s been a pretty good week, with some decent progress on the current WIP (Lifewalker) and some other random stuff that may be of some interest.
First, Lifewalker. It’s coming along quite well. I’m averaging around 2k words a day, so more of a leisurely pace than a white-hot creative heat, but not too bad. It’s kind of turned into a post-apocalyptic Western, mostly because I can’t write about southern Utah without the landscape taking over. This video should give you an idea why:
At the same time, the character’s voice really seems to be taking shape in a way that I like. He’s kind of drifting right now, but the way he writes about it is very much like an old man reminiscing on the course of his life, lingering on the regrets as well as the triumphs, with some rather wistful commentary on each. This is really a character that I can just pick up and run with–the story is practically writing itself.
It’s not just the voice, either. Random stuff is just finding it in–powerful stuff that makes the story awesome. For example, just in the last chapter, the characters were holding a meeting to see what they should do to rescue some of their friends who had been kidnapped. Out of nowhere, one of them pulls out a skull from a human baby, with beads and feathers dangling from it like some sort of totem. He brought it out to show that the people who’d attacked them were not just normal bandits, but cannibals from the Nevadan wastelands, which put them in a whole new category of badassery. Stuff like that comes out of nowhere every time I write, and it’s awesome.
I’ve had a lot of time to write, though I don’t feel I’ve been using it all productively. Still, I’m on track to finish this thing by the end of the month, which will be extremely gratifying.
In the meantime, I’ve been experimenting a lot with cooking and gardening. Just planted some tomatoes in 3-gallon ice cream buckets (with dirt instead of ice cream, of course), and those are growing nicely. It’s fun to have something to water in the morning, and when they start to yield fruit, I’m sure it will be awesome as well.
But I’ve also been experimenting with the old Egyptian kushari recipe I picked up after the 2008 study abroad. It always seemed to be missing that one thing that would make the other ingredients come together and achieve that delicious synergy. Well, I think I’ve found it: chickpeas and cumin, with maybe a touch of vinegar. It might not be 100% authentic, but when I cooked it this time with that stuff, it tasted heavenly.
So this weekend, I’m going to try to perfect the recipe, something I’ve been wanting to do for years. I’ll try cooking the rice in chicken broth, and adding more onions and garlic with maybe a little tomato. Also, coriander–I know that coriander and cilantro are basically the same plant, but I think the coriander will go with this better than cilantro. Also, it helps to fry it with a little oil after taking it out of the refrigerator, rather than sticking it in the microwave. I haven’t had a microwave for over a year, and I think I actually prefer cooking without it.
Speaking of food, my roommate’s sister’s roommates dropped off a bag full of crap from their kitchen, since they’re moving out for the summer. We’ve been having an interesting time combing through it–found some pretty good stuff, actually. One of the more useful things is a bag full of buckwheat, which is AWESOME because kasha was one of my favorite dishes in Georgia. Kasha and lobio–delicious!
So yeah, I’ve had food on my mind a lot this week. If things work out, maybe I’ll post a recipe or two. Kushari is delicious, cheap, filling, and healthy–a winning combination if ever there was one. Kasha is pretty simple, but that’s what makes it so great–a simple, hearty food that leaves you feeling warm and whole.
Besides cooking exotic foods, I’ve also been reading a lot of Freefall. I discovered it just last week, and I have to say, it is awesome. One of the better webcomics I think I’ve ever read. Like Schlock Mercenary, it’s a space opera comedy romp, but where Schlock kind of turned dark in recent years (which I’m not complaining about, don’t get me wrong), Freefall has still stuck to its happy-go-lucky roots. And just like Schlock Mercenary, the humor is not only entertaining, but often wonderfully insightful.
But by far, the best part of the story is how compelling the characters are. My favorite is Florence Ambrose, an artificially bred Bowman’s Wolf who is kind of a human-wolf hybrid. She’s one of only 14 members of her species, and the corporation that created her considers her more as property than an individual. She’s got all these biologically programmed safeguards that force her to obey direct human orders, no matter how ludicrous–but the only way for her species to survive is to convince the corporation that Bowman Wolves are profitable, so that they’ll make more (the whole 50-500 rule and all that).
Somehow, she becomes the engineer of the Savage Chicken, a down-and-out starship captained by the infamous Sam Starfall. Sam is basically a lazy, larcenous alien squid who wants nothing more than to steal everyone’s wallet and become famous doing it. At first, it seems like a horrible combination–Florence is basically a good, honest person, who wants to do good work and please everyone. But as the story goes on, the two develop quite a rapport, and start to rub off on each other.
Florence helps Sam to clean up and get his act together, and Sam helps Florence to learn ways to get around her difficult situation vis-a-vis her safeguards and lack of free will. More importantly, Sam helps her to stop feeling guilty long enough to recognize that doing the right thing sometimes means breaking (or at least twisting) the law.
As if that weren’t enough, there’s the whole cross-species romance angle between Florence and the biologist who rescues her back in one of the earlier subplots. As you might expect, it gets really lonely being the only Bowman’s Wolf on the planet–especially when the other 13 are frozen in cryo, on their way to a world several light-years away. Florence knows that she needs to do what she can to propagate the species, but she’s also got some emotional needs that demand to be satisfied now. Winston is kind of similar, a lonely parasitic biologist on a frontier terraforming project with only 40,000 humans and a 40-60 male-female ratio. Except for the whole cross-species issue, they make a really good couple. I’m riveted to find out what happens next!
So yeah, if I had to sum it up: good, honest, likeable person + insecure future + social limbo + unsatisfied emotional needs = really compelling story. Plus, she’s half wolf–how cool is that? What I would give for her incredible sense of smell…
In any case, it’s getting late, and even though tomorrow is Saturday, there’s a bunch of stuff I want to do tomorrow so I’d better cut this short for now. See you later!