Skip to content

NaNoWriMo progress update: An excerpt from my novel, The Fabric.

November 11, 2010

I knew I would eventually get behind on my writing because the first few weeks of November are the last few weeks of classes. This week, I’ve spent more time on homework and studying than I have in a long, long time. I’m about 6,000 words behind, but I hope to take today to get caught up. To push me forward, I’m going to do something I told myself I wouldn’t do and post an excerpt. It’s the first few pages, so please keep in mind a few things:

1. This is a first draft. It’s kind of sucky, and some of the sentence structure is choppy. I know this and I plan to fix it later.

2. Although there are similarities to my life, I promise you all characters are fictional and not remotely based off of myself or anyone I know.

3. Please feel free to critique it at will, although I would appreciate if you make your criticism constructive and respectful and not insulting.

Here we go!

The Fabric

Prologue

I was the bad guy.

“I can’t do this, Mother. I won’t do it.” Kneeling, Mother’s light shone around me.

You will, said Mother into me.

“But why?” I had started whimpering.

It is the way.

“It is not!” I was throwing a childlike tantrum. I had never been a child, so I could only imagine that this is what children do.

In response, Mother showed me my path, emphasizing the tragedy I was about to face. I wept.

My emotional responses were the result of chemical and electrical functions built into my synthetic brain. My heart was still, figuratively, broken. I looked up, directly into Mother’s light. “You will not win this.”

There is no winning. There is no loss. There is only what must be, and we must only intervene when the path is compromised.

I dropped my head into my hands, biting back my tears, replaying over and over again my mission, for the greatest good, Mother said, and that inevitable moment which would happen sooner than I realized.

Chapter 1

I was the bad guy.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Williams, but based on our policy, I can’t refund your overdraft fees at this time.”

The reactions were the worst part. I could take an angry customer. I could respond by blaming them for being negligent with their accounts, for being rude. I could look down on them. I hated the sad customers. I could see their hearts break, their minds turn as they tried to figure out what to sacrifice in their budgets. A loved one’s birthday gift. The electric bill. Maybe even food.

Mr. Williams was one of those people. After a moment, he sighed and said, “Well, thank you for trying, young man. I appreciate your help.” He got up in a dignified manner. He would not have a snotty banker pity him.

Mr. Williams accepted a small Social Security check every month. He withdrew his grocery money every Friday and always tried to give a dollar to the tellers so they could buy a bottle of pop. He was a good man, and this was an evil place. Keeping your money here was like handing it over to the devil himself for safekeeping.

I couldn’t handle this today.

“Just one moment, Mr. Williams. Let me look at one more thing.”

Mr. Williams turned around and sat back down. I looked at his account on my computer where the couple hundred dollars worth of overdraft fees had posted because Mr. Williams thought his check went through on Friday, not Monday. Next to each one was a drop down box which said, “Reason for fee reversal.” I chose the option, “Management Discretion” and knew that I would be hearing about my “excessive fee waivers” next week at the managers’ meeting.

“I went ahead and took care of those for you, Mr. Williams. They’ll be refunded to your account by tomorrow morning.”

The way his face lit up made my day. The joy he felt flashed only for a moment, replaced immediately by the dignified manner he usually employed. We both stood, and he shook my hand, thanked me for my generosity and assured me he would keep better track of his funds from now on. I thanked him for his patronage at The Evil Bank, Cleveland, Ohio branch, and wished him a good day.

Just two more hours until five o’clock.

Maybe I wasn’t so bad. I was just bad at my job, which required me to be a heartless, corporate robot. I was a good boss, though, or so I liked to believe.

I went past the teller line to grab another soda and noticed that Emma looked bored. Although she was very intently bending up a paper clip, the act itself told me that she had nothing better to do. Tuesday afternoons were the pits around here.

I walked up to the station and noticed that her red hair was down today. Normally, she wore it in a big, messy bun at the back of her head, but today it was long and flowing and wavy and shiny. Mesmerizing, really.

Not thinking of anything more clever, and not wanting to sound flirtatious, I said, “Your hair is down today.”

Startled, she dropped the paperclip and came out of her trance. She looked at me with her sharp blue eyes and smiled sheepishly. “Oh, I got it trimmed a little yesterday so I thought I would see how long I could leave it down without getting annoyed at it.”

“I like it a lot.” Poetic.

“Aw, thanks, Artin.” That adorable sheepish grin again. Did I detect a blush at my comment? Why didn’t I compliment her more often? Oh yeah, I’m her boss, and I need to keep a professional relationship. Anything more and it would complicate things horribly, not to mention all the paperwork pursuing a relationship with an employee would create.

Did that mean I wanted to pursue a relationship with Emma? I shook off the thought. I needed to get a hold of myself and my naughty, unprofessional desires.

When the silence between us started to become awkward, a customer walked in and Emma popped up from her seat to help Ms. Watson. I walked back to my desk and picked up a paperclip to busy my hands.

Emma and I were only a few years apart. She just turned 21, was still in school and would be leaving the bank soon to pursue much bigger things. I was 27, trapped here for all eternity because I was stupid enough to get a degree in finance. My salary was already capped and the only way I could get more was by going back to school, but who has time for that? Not someone who barely has the motivation to wake up in the morning, who spends his evenings playing video games and watching a shameful amount of pornography.

So it is likely that I would be here, at this desk in this little city until I could retire or until I died. With the economy today, the latter would likely happen first. All these thoughts made me feel suffocated and depressed.

Despite my best efforts, I decided to let myself think a little about Emma so I could cheer up enough to continue my day in a moderately productive manner.

Emma started here a year ago. I didn’t hire her, and I don’t think I would have, either. I would have gone for someone with more experience, but Bernie, the operational leader, liked her enthusiasm. A year later, that enthusiasm was still there. She brought a light into this office that kept customers driving extra miles just to have her do their deposits. She was quirky and charismatic and… well, beautiful. I hated to admit how attracted to her I’d become over the time I’d known her.

Emma was not the kind of girl you would see in commercials. She was not any kind of anything at all. She seemed bubbly and perky on the outside. One is led to believe she’s a bit off but having a conversation with her for just five minutes could change that impression. You could quickly tell how vastly intelligent she was, quick-witted, funny, intense but relaxing to be around.

She was kind of perfect.

But she wasn’t perfect for me, and I knew that. It didn’t stop me from longing for her, though.

My trance was disrupted by Dolores, the head teller, who had yet another customer asking to have fees refunded. My last two hours went by very quickly after that.

The evening was no different than any other. I got into my apartment, turned on the light, took off my shoes and tie, and went to the kitchen to pour myself a drink. After an evening of drinking more than usual and gaming, I decided to go to bed a bit early.

I got out of my computer chair and stumbled into the bathroom. I looked in the mirror while I took a piss. Supposedly when people are drunk, they find themselves more attractive. Such was not the case this night. I looked tired, and really drunk, but most of all, sad. I was not in a state to evaluate whether or not I felt sad, but I figured I would find out later.

Most of the time, I wasn’t a bad-looking guy. I worked out at least four times a week. I was wiry and thin, but muscular. I put my fingers through my short brown hair. It was unkempt from where my headphones had been. Despite my naturally olive complexion, I looked especially pale. Maybe I was going to puke. My high cheekbones and structured jaw looked sallow. My teeth were grimy. I needed to shave. I was really gross and wondered if this was why I couldn’t get a date.

That’s not true, I told myself. I can’t get a date because of my head. My impulsiveness. My “vibes.” It was stupid, but I couldn’t help it.

Throughout my life, these random pangs of feeling would interrupt my normal trains of thought. It was like a voice guiding me, and I couldn’t go against it no matter how much I tried. When the voice spoke, I obeyed. That makes me sound insane, and I didn’t think that was really the case. The vibes were seldom and inconsistent, which is why I didn’t rely on having them for everything, and which is why I had to truly listen to them to make sure what I was feeling wasn’t just a desire.

The feelings came in handy for simple things in life. Where most people would toil over a decision about which piece of furniture to purchase, if I had a vibe about a piece of furniture, I would buy it. There was something in me that said, “Perfect, yes!” or “Absolutely not!” I would shrug and get out my credit card. It was stupid things that made my vibes come out. It made me seem impulsive.

I would call off work some days because I just had to. There was something forcing me to stay home I couldn’t fight, and I didn’t question it because I couldn’t. My vibes wouldn’t let me question them. I just knew when some things were true and false, right and wrong.

Without being aware of it, sometimes I would predict people’s futures. A teller at work broke her leg once while she was at a party. When she went on short-term leave, despite it being paid, I told Bernie, “I think she’s going to quit soon to go to another job.” Bernie had replied, “That would be stupid, we’re paying her sick leave for six weeks.” I shrugged, and two days later, the teller called to say she had gotten offered a different job that paid more and she wouldn’t be coming back to work.

My vibes helped with simple things most of the time, but they also helped my love life. I suppose “helped” is the wrong word. “Ruined” would be a better word.

When I was fifteen, I met a girl named Tina. It was love at first sight. Had we met later in life, I think we would have gotten married right away. The second I laid eyes on her, I knew we were going to be in love for a very, very long time, and we were either going to live happily ever after or break up explosively, leaving us both broken for as many years as we were together.

I took a chance, hoped for the former, but the latter happened shortly after our four year anniversary. She fell in love with someone else, a man who was older, who had direction in life, who was probably short and stocky, who probably liked dogs. Essentially, she was driven to be with the very opposite of me.

I don’t really know what happened, but I blamed myself and she blamed me too. Thinking about it burdened my heart, made it feel heavy in my chest. We had cheated on each other on the same night without knowing what the other was doing. We had drifted apart and found other people. The woman I found was a fling. The man she found was her true soulmate, or so she said.

I hadn’t spoken to Tina in six years, and I doubted I would ever hear from her again. After much thought, I realized that was okay with me. I had moved on. My existence was pathetic, but I was an independent, moderately functioning member of society. That was really all I aimed for in life.

My point about Tina is that even though I’m led to believe I have will power in my life, I am at the mercy of these vibes of mine. When I first laid eyes on Tina one cloudy day in September, I was in love. There was no falling in love. With me, it is in love or out. I am totally devoted or I am nothing. This is why I hadn’t put more effort into wooing Emma. I wasn’t in love with her and I knew I never would be. She was perfect, but someone else’s heart belonged to hers and she had yet to find out who that was.

Because of my cursed impulsivity, I never tried to find love because I knew if I were patient enough, it would eventually find me. And if it didn’t, then I had to learn to be okay with video games and porn.

I brushed my teeth and went to bed, dreading the next day, and the next, and the next.

NaNoWriMo: I’m gonna write me a novel.

October 26, 2010

Every November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and every November, I sign up for it but fail miserably. As in, I don’t even start. But this year I happened to have a dash of inspiration right before the beginning date, so I’ve spent the last few days outlining and starting my novel.

Normally I don’t tell anyone that I joined NaNoWriMo, but this year I’m telling lots of people, so that when (if?) I fail miserably again, a lot of people will be disappointed in me. If I do win, I’ll have a couple people edit it, see if they like it, and publish it in eBook form, which is going to be my reward.

To win, you have to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and 30th. That’s 1,667 words per day.

I keep telling myself that if a lobotomized cat can write a novel (I hope you know I mean Stephanie Meyer), then so can I.

Here’s my little synopsis, which I wrote to sound like the back of early 90s paperback YA novels:

Artin is bored with his day-in, day-out, 9 to 5 life, until a car accident leaves him with spontaneously-occurring visions of the future. His life is changed, but he is still directionless, until a vision leads him to Lucy, a mysterious, silver-eyed woman whom he believes to be the love of his life. There is something more to Lucy, though, and he intends to find out what.

And here’s a snippet:

My vibes helped with silly things most of the time, but they also helped my love life. I suppose “helped” is the wrong word. “Ruined” would be a better word.

When I was fifteen, I met a girl named Tina. It was love at first sight. Had we met later in life, I think we would have gotten married right away. The second I laid eyes on her, I knew we were going to be in love for a very, very long time, and we were either going to live happily ever after or break up explosively, leaving us both broken for as many years as we were together.

I took a chance, hoped for the former, but the latter happened shortly after our four year anniversary. She fell in love with someone else, a man who was older, who had direction in life, who was probably short and stocky, who probably liked dogs. Essentially, she was driven to be with the very opposite of me.

Feel free to tell me if it sounds dumb. It’s just a rough draft after all, and I’m mostly trying to churn it out instead of making it sound good.

If you join this year, let me know and I’ll friend you on the site. Here’s my little page, in case you’re interested. I was also considering attending a couple of the regional events, so if you live in my area and would like to join me, let me know and we can carpool or something.

A potentially profitable idea.

October 10, 2010

I made a new banner for the site that I feel better reflects the content of my blog, with a lady cyborg and a book-y feel to it. It took me all of an hour to make, so if you hate it, I won’t be upset. My Photoshop skills are elementary at best, as demonstrated by the following:

Anyway, I have no real content for this post except to explain my current predicament. As I have reached my 1000th hit since starting real posts here, I feel that it may be beneficial for me to get a web host and a domain name and perhaps attempt to market my blog to something a little more substantial than a free WordPress blog. I realize that a majority of my traffic is from people trying to find erotic Twilight fanfic, but I feel with a slight amount of effort (which I, thus far, have put none forth), I could maybe find a small audience with similar feminist science fiction/pop culture interests.

If I were to do this, my goal would be to update frequently with more reviews, pop culture complaints, top ten lists, and sci fi/pop culture feminist news.

Do you think this would be a worthwhile endeavor for me, or should I keep up my current not-for-profit, seldom-updated, difficult-to-properly-customize blog? Also, do you like my new banner?

The Hunger Games: She’s a rebel, she’s a saint.

October 5, 2010

I’ve moved! Please click here to view this post.

Amazon Kindle 3 vs. Get off your ass and go to the library.

September 23, 2010

I’ve moved! Please click here to view this post.

25ish movies I’ll probably see this year.

July 17, 2010

I had my wisdom teeth taken out yesterday and am in just enough discomfort that, coupled with my excessively hyper new kitten, sleeping is difficult. That’s why I’m writing this at 6am with a cold compress on my face and a dull, agitated look in my eyes. Also, I may not be entirely coherent in this entry due to pain meds, so I urge you to sway your raging need to correct my grammar just this once.

In other news, I have several entries I’m in the process of writing, but their progress is coming slowly. To give some spoilers, I finished my Twilight Saga burden and also saw Eclipse, so expect a final entry or two on that. I also finished The Big Bang Theory and I have some opinions on the geekery therein; and speaking of geekery, I’m coming up with a quaint list of 10 ways to be geekier without really trying. As far as movies go, I may write about Predators and although it’s a little late, Whip It, in addition to close to all of the films on this upcoming list.

When I started looking up 2010 films, I had a difficult time finding a site which successfully weeded out the crappy films (*cough*romantic comedies*cough*), so I feel it’s my place to come up with a cohesive list of all the good movies I’ve been hearing about. Although it’s July and over half the films of 2010 have already come out, I think we all know that the good movies, I mean the potentially history-making classic movies, come out in the latter half of the year.

Backtracking a bit.

Unfortunately, there were a few films that I missed because they weren’t widely released and/or advertised.

The Runaways

  • Released: March, 2010
  • Genre: Biopic
  • Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon
  • Reason to see it: The Runaways chronicles the story of Joan Jett, and who doesn’t love Joan Jett? Additionally, I’m fascinated by Kristen Stewart’s (lack of) acting capability in what I’ve seen of her so far, so I figure this film will either be an opportunity for her to redeem herself or confirm my suspicions that she is a genuinely sucky actress.

Defendor

  • Released: February, 2010
  • Genre: Comedy, crime drama
  • Starring: Woody Harrelson, Sandra Oh
  • Reason to see it: A slightly insane, good-hearted, vigilante superhero played by Woody Harrelson? I’m in. Too bad it wasn’t widely released here. I definitely would have gone to the theater for it.

Youth in Revolt

  • Released: January, 2010
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Starring: Michael Cera, Zach Galafianakis, Fred Willard, Steve Buscemi
  • Reason to see it: Although I will happily see any film with Steve Buscemi in it, Michael Cera with an alter ego, a moustache, and aviators is enough to win me over. This film was widely released earlier this year, and you may want to dock me some of my movie nerd cred, but I simply missed it out of negligence. Sigh.

Out this Summer.

The Kids are All Right

  • Release date: July, 2010
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Starring: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo
  • Reason to see it: In my highest hopes, I think this film will be revolutionary for the way people view lesbian couples.

Despicable Me

  • Release date: July, 2010
  • Genre: Kids, comedy
  • Starring: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand
  • Reason to see it: What can I say? It looks cute.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

  • Release date: July, 2010
  • Genre: Sci fi, fantasy
  • Starring: Nicholas Cage, Dave Baruchel
  • Reason to see it: I wasn’t planning on seeing it, but several friends whose opinions I trust say it’s worth seeing, so I might as well. Plus, Nicholas Cage won me over with Kick Ass.

Inception

  • Release date: July, 2010
  • Genre: Sci fi
  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page
  • Reason to see it: So far, it looks like the best film of 2010. I wanted to see the midnight release of it last Thursday but a certain person I live with didn’t want to see it because he had to wake up at 4am the next day. Pfft. Anyway, as soon as I get off the aforementioned pain meds, I’m rushing to the theater to see it. It’s science fiction meets awesome.

Salt

  • Release date: July, 2010
  • Genre: Action
  • Starring: Angelina Jolie
  • Reason to see it: Supposedly, Salt was supposed to be a male character. This either means that Angelina Jolie’s portrayal is sickeningly sexualized, which is probable, or her character will be awesome. I’m willing to see it on the off-chance that the latter is true.

Dinner for Schmucks

  • Release date: July, 2010
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Starring: Paul Rudd, Steve Carell
  • Reason to see it: As soon as I added this film to the list I wanted to take it off because I just remembered that I hate generic comedies. I haven’t liked Paul Rudd in a long time and every character Steve Carell plays (excluding voice talent) annoys me. Maybe I’ll rent it or see it at the cheap theater or something.

The Expendables

  • Release date: August, 2010
  • Genre: Action, testosterone
  • Starring: Every man who has ever been associated with masculinity in film.
  • Reason to see it: Even if I didn’t want to see it, the boyfriend would drag me to it.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

  • Release date: August, 2010
  • Genre: Comedy, action
  • Starring: Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin
  • Reason to see it: Although I have yet to read the graphic novels, they are supposedly great. The buzz for this film is pretty high in the comic book world, so it’s my duty as a comic book nerd to see it.

Out this Fall.

Machete

  • Release date: September, 2010
  • Genre: Action
  • Starring: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba
  • Reason to see it: Jessica Alba + stylish violence = win.

Howl

  • Release date: September, 2010
  • Genre: Biopic
  • Starring: James Franco, Jon Hamm
  • Reason to see it: This film is based on the obscenity trial Allen Ginsberg faced after publishing his epic poem, “Howl.” I adore James Franco, beat poetry, and Allen Ginsberg, so I have no reason to miss this fantastically stylish-looking film.

Nowhere Boy

  • Release date: October, 2010
  • Genre: Biopic
  • Starring: Aaron Johnson
  • Reason to see it: This film is based on John Lennon’s younger years, as portrayed by Kick Ass‘s Aaron Johnson. No Beatles fan should miss this.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

  • Release date: November, 2010
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
  • Reason to see it: I’ve been with Harry Potter for over a decade now when the first two books were released in the US; I’m not about to stop now.

Welcome to the Rileys

  • Release date: November, 2010
  • Genre: Drama
  • Starring: Kristen Stewart, James Gandolfini
  • Reason to see it: Again arises my fascination with Kristen Stewart. This film looks quaint in a Lost in Translation way, so I feel it’s worth seeing.

Out this Winter.

Tron: Legacy

  • Release date: December, 2010
  • Genre: Sci fi
  • Starring: Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde
  • Reason to see it: We’ve waited almost two decades for this. Based on the extreme cult following of the original, this sequel looks promising.

The Green Hornet

  • Release date: January, 2011
  • Genre: Superhero, comedy
  • Starring: Seth Rogen, Cameron Diaz
  • Reason to see it: Even though this film comes out early next year, I already saw some trailers for it so I thought I’d add it. I’m only planning on seeing it because I feel compelled to see all superhero movies. Even though Seth Rogen isn’t my favorite actor, the combination of superhero movie plus comedy is intriguing.

Questionable/unknown release dates.

Never Let Me Go

  • Genre: Sci fi, drama
  • Starring: Kiera Knightly, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield
  • Reason to see it: This film is kind of a mystery to me. It’s supposedly science fiction-oriented, although the plot seems Logan’s Run-esque, which is reason enough for me to see it despite the presence of overt romantic drama.

Monsters

  • Genre: Sci fi
  • Reason to see it: I can’t find much on this film, but from the Wikipedia page (linked above), it looks promising.

Skyline

  • Genre: Sci fi
  • Starring: Donald Faison
  • Reason to see it: Directed by the Brothers Strause, who made such catastrophes as Alien vs. Predator and Surrogates, I’m a bit hesitant, but as a devoted sci fi nerd, I’ll probably end up seeing it. Supposedly, it’s an apocalyptic movie where the only means of survival is a skyscraper or something stupid.

Looper

  • Genre: Sci fi
  • Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis
  • Reason to see it: Supposedly it’s about time travel. That’s enough information for me, although I doubt it will be widely released.

Paul

  • Genre: Sci fi, comedy
  • Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen
  • Reason to see it: The synopsis reminds me of Weekend at Bernie’s only with an alien instead of a dead guy. Looks promising.

The Cabin in the Woods

  • Genre: Horror
  • Starring: Fran Kranz, Amy Acker
  • Reason to see it: I would follow Joss Whedon to his grave. The release of this film, however, has been postponed indefinitely. Sad.

The Dungeon Masters

  • Genre: Documentary
  • Reason to see it: It’s a documentary about DnD that got awesome festival reviews.

Arrested Development

  • Genre: Comedy
  • Starring: Jason Batement, Will Arnett, Michael Cera
  • Reason to see it: It’s an Arrested Development *movie.* Every fan should see it. Too bad it’s mostly speculation and arguments at the moment.

Just looking at lists of ‘anticipated films’ sometimes excludes the good, Oscar-worthy movies that movie-goers like yourselves really want to see and hear about, so I hope this helped organize your thoughts on this year’s upcoming films.

Twilight: Volvo (for men only!), sexual deviance, and abusive relationships

June 27, 2010

I’ve moved! Please click here to view this post.