Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

Archive for July, 2011

Boom boom boom

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Hope y’all had a happy fourth of July (those who celebrate, anyway). We had a lazy day here at the PrattShaw house, with a stroll to get ice cream cones in the afternoon, then my sister-in-law and nephew came over to eat large quantities of grilled meats at dinnertime. The boys had a fairly epic watergun fight. I had to run an errand after dinner, so I biked downtown and back in the cool evening air. Biking: still fun.

Our kid freaked out a bit around 9 p.m., from the noise of all the fireworks — he was terrified, didn’t know what was going on, etc. We soothed him and explained about fireworks and told him it was just people celebrating, and he seemed to get it. Took him a while to fall asleep, though. The plus side of him being up until 10 p.m.: he slept until 7:30 a.m. today!

My wife and I watched some Doctor Who, finishing last year’s season (good stuff), and otherwise frolicked. A lovely night, overall.

Dance with Dragons is good. I’m a bit over halfway through. The urge to blow off writing today and just finish reading it is mighty, but I must be strong.

I wrote about 1500 words on City of the Fallen Sky yesterday, bringing my vacation total to 13,500. I’m still about 7500 words behind schedule, though. (I realize perhaps I have not explained this schedule I keep mentioning. To meet my deadline, and to have ten days or so to revise the book before turning it in, I calculated that I needed to average 1500 words a day in June and July. I did quite well through most of June for the first 20 days of the month. Then a combination of deadline week at work and having a houseguest knocked my productivity way down. Now, I don’t mind — I loved having my friend D here! — but it does mean I have to make up those missed days. Hence this day-job vacation week, so I can focus on fiction. Bare minimum, I should be back on schedule by the end of this week. But I would dearly love to actually get ahead of schedule.)

Bicycles Excepted

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Yesterday, awesomeness was also achieved. Things began a bit inauspiciously: the child woke my wife at around 5 a.m., so rather than the two of them gallivanting off for the morning while I wrote (as planned), my wife went back to bed for a while to catch up on her sleep. What with one thing and another, it was well after 1 p.m. before I had time and quiet for writing, and mid-afternoon is not my best period in which to get work done: mostly, that time of day, I want to nap.

But I managed to get about 2500 words written, in between some housecleaning, a quick trip to the grocery store, and other distractions.

My wife took her shiny new bike out for a ride, with a rented trailer attached to pull the boy along, and they had a fabulous time. Around 5 she biked over to the rental place to return the trailer… but the boy had fallen asleep in it. The prospect of dragging her bike and a cranky, sleep-interrupted child to the bus stop and riding said bus home did not appeal, so she called me for a rescue. I drove over and transferred the boy to the car seat (he didn’t even wake up). My wife kindly took over driving back so I could ride the bike home, as I’d been cooped up inside working for most of the afternoon, and as a result missed a really beautiful summer day.

I haven’t ridden a bicycle in years. So fun! It’s a good bike, too. The journey was only about four miles, so it didn’t take long. I wished for a longer trip. Berkeley is very bicycle-friendly. All the annoying chicanes and circles and weird signs restricting traffic that are so annoying in a car are wonderful on a bicycle. It’s lovely to sail past a big red DO NOT ENTER sign, with its smaller “Emergency Vehicles and Bicycles Excepted” sign underneath.

I mean, I could do without some of the hills, and it’ll be a while before I’m comfortable biking on some of the main streets, but overall, this is a good city to start bicycling in again. (Don’t worry, this won’t become a bike blog. It’s my wife’s bike, and it’s mostly for her new in-town commute, so I won’t be riding it much anyway.) If only I could bike to work… but there’s not a gear low enough to get me to the top of a hill that steep, and riding down would be essentially like falling off a cliff and rapidly reaching terminal velocity. The brakes would be reduced to ash by friction after day one.

Oh, and then in the evening I did some more writing, and managed about 5,300 words total. So now instead of being 16,000 words behind schedule, I’m only 11,000 words behind! A few more good days and I’ll be in an excellent position.

And I finished The Heroes (pretty good, but Best Served Cold is still my favorite), and am now well into A Dance with Dragons. (It is good.) Also watched some Doctor Who with my wife, the one where a character gets his entire existence retroactively erased. Ouch. What a way to go. I made a joke about balefire, which my wife did not understand. I am too geeky even for my own true love. Oh well.

Why I Am Badass

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Today I:

    Helped out with some emergency digital publishing problems at the day job by phone

    Did a load of laundry

    Washed dishes

    Read and sent corrections for the page proofs of Briarpatch (order early and often!)

    Wrote 1400 words of book reviews

And here’s why this is impressive: I did all this while solo parenting a three-year-old. Read page proofs between bouts of Lego building and pretending to be a witch. Did laundry while he ate peanut-butter-and-jelly. Wrote book reviews while he read picture books and played with building blocks at the library. Talked on the phone while helping him go potty (er, sorry, co-workers). And I even played with the kid at the playground and had a picnic lunch with him, too, so he didn’t end up feeling too ignored.

Fortunately, he fell asleep, so now I get to sit in the yard and read for an hour or so.

A lot of days, I fail. Today, I win.

A Human Is a Weaponized Ape

Friday, July 1st, 2011

My vacation starts today! No day job work until Friday, July 8. (I know, going in to work for one day before a weekend is weird, but that’s the magazine life for you — some deadlines could only be put off for so long.)

Now, I don’t know what you people do on your vacations, probably kite surfing and boar hunting and snow diving and such, but here’s what I’m going to do:

    Check the page proofs for Briarpatch — like, today.

    Write two book reviews — also, like, today.

    Do final edits for my Wizards of the Coast novel.

    Write as many words as humanly possible on my book City of the Fallen Sky, which needs another 40,000 words or so written in the next three weeks.

Yeah, so on vacation: I work. But writing and editing is noticeably easier when you don’t spend 9 hours at a day job before said writing and editing, so it should be an improvement on most of my days. I’ll also try to pop in here frequently to let y’all know how things are going.

It won’t be all bad, though. I can’t work all the time. Some other things I’ll do, if all goes according to plan:

    Finish reading The Heroes

    Read Dance with Dragons

    Play hide-and-seek with my kid

    Hang out with my wife

    Cook delicious meat over a charcoal fire

    Drink margaritas

    Go swimming

    Sit in my yard reading and drinking beer

So there might be some vacation in there after all. But, mostly, writing.