“And now it’s time for a breakdown.”

I’m taking a day off from the Paris Review Interviews thing to play a little bit of catch-up and braindumping.  So no, I’m not talking about a nervous breakdown (that’s coming soon enough), but a breakdown of what I’ve been up to lately.  There are a lot of folks to whom I owe emails, critiques, apologies, etc.  This is not meant to be a replacement for those.  It’s just a little something for someone asking, to quote Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On?”

Aside from the dayjob which I constantly bitch about this time of the semester, the Fall’s been awash with activity…

I got one story published back in October and another one due out in about a month.  Exciting!!  I subbed one recently, which I’m not too happy with, and on further readings, I’m not sure how much hope it has.  We’ll see.

This weekend, I’m going to Philcon, or as I call it: Operation: Meet Peter S. Beagle.  Hopefully, I’ll run into a tweep or two.  Plans have been made and phone numbers exchanged.  Still, it would help if the con posted their schedule (they hadn’t yet at the time I’m actually typing this sentence).  A Twitter search actually shows individual panelists posting their schedules.  I wonder if I could just stitch them together for a rough map of the con.  Of course, with my luck, I’ll get that done right about the time when the program schedule is posted.

I’ve started a new story with will have at least one of, or some combination of the following elements: Dorothy Parker, Cole Porter, The Appalachian border between Ohio and W. Virginia, and 1920s historical anectodes about White supremacist groups.  No idea where it’s going.

I’ve almost recovered from whatever branch of the Andromeda Strain that invaded my sinuses.  It was my own fault for letting it linger for a week or so.  When I finally needed to take some days off and ended up with no writing to show for it, I knew it was time for medication.

I suppose having read the comics and blogs of Warren Ellis for years was bound to have some effect on my writing process.  In a recent post, he talks about what he uses to write.  I couldn’t tell you how much of my workflow I consciously stole from him.  But I thought it’d fun to compare and contrast.  My setup is in red.

Computer 1 is a Lenovo Thinkpad X61 an old Dell Inspiron 1501 running dual-boot Ubuntu 10.10/Windows XP. It’s slowly dying (Actually, my backup laptop, a Compaq Presario 2200 is the one dying and I expect it to within the next 2-3 months), and I am either a) too cheap to buy myself a new machine or b) too terrified of having to load up a whole new machine. Pick one. I’ll very probably buy a new Thinkpad in the near future. This is the main machine that never leaves the desk.

Computer 2 is an Asus Eee Acer Aspire One netbook that lives in my bag.

Other Device is an iPhone 3GS. It lives in one inside pocket of my leather coat. In the other inside pocket is an old Nokia foldaway bluetooth keyboard. On the days when I don’t want to lug the netbook to the pub or wherever, I can still write short bursts of text or longish emails just with the kit in my pockets.  I don’t have something comparable.  I’m too poor.

I use the Chrome Firefox browser on both computers, because it’s very fast and the browser syncs across both machines. That means that I always have my delicious.com and Google bookmarks regardless of the machine I’m on, which is important. Also, I always have single-button access to Google Reader (which also syncs to my iPhone via the Reeder app).

I write in OpenOffice, on both machines. It’s a bit clunky in places — adding page numbers should be a fuck of a lot easier — but it does the job just fine. I save all work in .rtf format: every word processor can read .rtf. I’ve tried other setups–this is just easiest for me.

(If I’m writing film or tv, I work in Final Draft — industry standard, inextricably linked into workflow systems at a great many production houses and studios. If you want to, for example, tell a cable network to throw away their entire workflow structure because you think open source screenwriting software is cool, be my guest, but also be prepared to be called a twat.)  I don’t do any of this, but his point about industry standards is well-taken.

I often write rough drafts in Notepad PageFour, and then copy the text over into OpenOffice, which forces me to rewrite and polish.

I occasionally use Google Documents for short stuff on the fly, but I often find the word processing to be a bit herky-jerky.

I also work extensively in notebooks. I use Moleskines and Field Notes. I write with ultra fine point Sharpies, or good propelling Mirado Black Warrior #2 pencils, or, sometimes, a Tuff-Writer pen I was given, because it’s actually a bloody nice whatever black ballpoint or colored gelpoint pen I happen to have have on hand in my go bag. Be aware that I fetishise nicely designed goods, and the same results can be achieved with a Bic and a notebook bought for fifty pence from the Post Office.

“There is NOOOOO… rule 6.”

Uh, I think that’s it.  What’ve you all been up to?

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