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The Scalzi River is Back

We’ve been having a mess of rain here the last few days — two massive thunderstorms in the last four hours alone, including one that knocked off the power for a few minutes — and the oversaturation of the ground means that the Scalzi River has made a return appearance. The Scalzi River shows up when the creek that runs parallel to my property line overflows and skips off its track. When that happens the excess water curls around my property and heads toward the larger Harris Creek across the road by way of a drainage ditch at the front of my property. The picture above is the Scalzi River at its headwaters: This area is normally dry. You’ll note that Krissy’s garden is in danger of getting swamped. Below is a shot of the river as it heads toward the edge of the property, the better to swamp my neighbors’ access road:

The good news is that barring any additional rain, the Scalzi river will drain itself out in the space of a few hours. The bad news is that more rain is coming. It’s going to be a very long, squishy week.

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Random Thoughts

As part of my jumble-minded, occasionally-updating self, here are a few random thoughts, notes and comments for you.

* Part of the reason I’m planning to slack off here is that I’m putting th gas down on the book projects, particularly Book of the Dumb, for which I have the goal of basically doubling my daily output. The reason for this? None, except I like the idea of not panicking at deadline time (also, at the time of the deadline, I’ll be in Toronto on vacation, and I’d actually like to enjoy my vacation). So far, so good. Fortunately, the world is helping by continuing to be a place where stupidity runs rampant in the streets. I can’t tell you how useful this is.

* One of the great pleasures of writing a novel (for me, anyway), is watching how the details of a story change from what you originally imagined them to be, partly out of the need to make the world more interesting to the reader.

For example: In the novel I’m writing, I planned to have my main character meet up with a secondary character, who provides him with an important piece of information. This same character would later have an incident that involved his cat, or more accurately, a cat left with him by an ex-girlfriend. But as I’m writing about my main character traveling to meet this other character, I have to flesh out details about the neighborhood in which this other character lives. I decide to make it exceptionally dog friendly.

Poof, out goes the cat and in comes a dog — an Akita, specifically, because I’m fond of the breed. This in itself leads to a cascade of subtle changes to the texture of the novel, and opens up some opportunities in other places that I simply wasn’t expecting.

This is neat stuff for me; I’m like any reader in that I like to be surprised by what I read, even if I’m also writing it at the same time. A lot of the pleasure I get out of watching the book twist and turn of its volition is something that’s denied to you as a reader, of course. But I think you (should you read the book) will get the pleasure of a book that’s fun to read because it’s been fun to write. That’s the plan, anyway.

* Tangential to writing and thinking, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor at Tor, quotes his wife and fellow editor/thinker/swell human Teresa on the subject of the state of humanity. Teresa writes:

“My own personal theory is that this is the very dawn of the world. Were hardly more than an eyeblink away from the fall of Troy, and scarcely an interglaciation removed from the Altamira cave painters. We live in extremely interesting ancient times.”

This is a pretty resonant idea to me, and it certainly makes me feel better when I think about how simian I think some people are in their mental processes. My only regret is that I won’t live to see modern times, which is something I’m keen to experience. I don’t write science fiction just because it allows me to make stuff up in my head instead of having to research — I also write it because I want to see what the next couple of thousand years will be like.

I also like the idea I’m an atavistic throwback. Makes me feel better about my numerous personal flaws.

* July 4: It was wet. As was July 5, July 6 and, if the weatherman is correct, so will be Julys 7-11 inclusive. The weekend was actually marked by massive thunderstorms and high winds, so nature provided fireworks to compensate for the ones that didn’t go off. Which was awfully nice of nature, I suppose.

I read somewhere that 92% of Americans consider themselves “patriotic,” but that what “patriotic” means varies wildly from person to person. I don’t know about that. The definition of “patriotic” is typically the same, i.e., “However I think people should think about America.” This is why nine out of ten people can think they’re patriotic, but also probably think that patriotic people are in minority. And I suppose that’s true enough anyway. I do happen to think I’m pretty patriotic, or at the very least I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but here. But I don’t think a lot of people who think themselves “patriotic” would think I’m as patriotic as they are.

* I flummoxed an evangelist at the door yesterday, which I found pretty amusing. This nice older lady rang the doorbell, complimented me on my daylilies (which I thought were daffodils, but which are apparently not), and identified herself and her sect. “We believe in fellowship with people of all faiths, and no doubt you have your own religion,” she said.

“Actually, I don’t,” I said. “I’m agnostic.”

“Oh,” she said, and then seemed slightly dazed. I had clearly knocked her off her prepared spiel, which was predicated on me agreeing with and identifying my own religious impulse; even atheists have a religious impulse, it’s just a negative one. With an agnostic, you get no traction. Sensing we had come to an impasse, I politely excused myself and went back into the house.

This is of course an embodiment of rural America, which is that everyone out in these here parts has faith of some sort or another. I don’t know how true it is, since most of my immediate neighbors seem to sleep in on Sunday instead of hauling themselves into church, but it’s persistent. This may make me the official town heathen. I can live with that.

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My Museum

A Los Angeles Times story about the Raymond Alf Museum, located at my high school (it’s the only fully accredited paleontology facility at a high school, which is pretty nifty). I’m pleased to say that fossils I’ve found are stored there.

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On Second Thought

Remember what I said about taking August off? Scratch that. I’m actually going to take July off.

Well, maybe not the entire month. But probably a lot of it — there may be several days between updates. There’s just stuff I need to be doing.

So there you have it. From now through August 1, checking in daily will probably not be necessary; a couple times a week should do you just fine.

Have fun with July. Try not to blow yourselves up on Friday, okay?

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Buy Pamie’s Book

Pamie doesn’t need my help, but I’m going to help anyway: You should go buy her book Why Girls Are Weird, the cover of which I will now show you:

Today is its first official day of release. You should get it because it’s funny, because it’s well-written, because it’s full of that whole 21st Century 20-something frisson you dig so much, and because Pamie puts me in the acknowledgments by saying “John Scalzi, it’s your turn.” This sounds like I’m next in line for assassination or something along that line, but it’s more of a “get your novel published and join the club” sort of thing. Which is really sweet and, as it happens, largely temporally correct, since my novel’s coming out next year.

Unless Pamie does mean to assassinate me. She always did have that covert look about her.

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A Heads Up

Okay, kids, I’m telling you this now so you can’t say I didn’t give you advance warning: It’s probably very likely that during the month of August I’m going to take a break from the Whatever. I mentioned about a month ago that I might do something like this if I started feeling pressed for time with my book projects. As it happens, both projects are coming along nicely — which is to say both the novel and Book of the Dumb are about where I need them to be in terms of output — but I have a couple of other things I’m likely to want to do during that month, which may actually involve getting paid(!) and the time’s got to come out of something for which I’m currently not getting paid, which means, you know, this (I would stop writing IndieCrit, but I already did that last month, and taking another month off would definitely halt the flow of free CDs I so very crave).

Now, it may be possible that I won’t take off August, depending how efficiently I manage my time here in July. But right now I’m forecasting a 75% probability. But I can promise you this: If I do take the time off, It’ll be for a very good reason, and I’ll share the results with you as soon as I can. So everybody wins.

Anyway. You have 31 days to steel yourselves. Make your preparations now.

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