Daniel Cheney
Regular Spelling
Thoughts and observations about language
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Daniel Meets A Zombie

Well, not really. But let me tell you about the guy I've named Pizza Zombie.

So tonight, here late in the evening, I was walking to the grocery store to buy some food for breakfast in the morning. On my way there, I saw a man shuffling around with a pizza in his hand, looking up at some house. He was wobbling and shuffling along slowly, and I'm not sure if he was high or he was drunk, but my first thought was he was a pizza delivery guy who was drunk trying to find where to deliver the pizza to. He wanders down an alley as I'm getting near, so I pay him no more mind as I continue to the store.

Twenty or so minutes later I finish at the store and head back to my place, and come to an intersection. And who just happened to have crossed that intersection? Pizza Zombie, only 100 or so meters from where I last saw him twenty minutes ago. The crosswalk's red when I get there, so I have to wait. And while I do, Pizza Zombie comes up to me and asks me for help. Given the way downtown SLC is, my first reflex is figuring he wanted some change, and I tell him I don't have any change. But instead he tells me he doesn't know where to go. Given that it's also common for people to be looking for a place to stay, I say nothing then. But no, he's not looking for a place to stay. He literally doesn't know where to go. 

"Where am I?" he asks me, looking dazed. Now SLC is a grid system, and we happened to be standing at the intersection of two roads with the same number, so I tell him the two numbers. He tells me where he's trying to go, and I'm starting to direct him when I realize that he only gave me the numbers, and without the direction on each of them there were two equally likely places he could be trying to go, so I stop and ask for clarification. With that, I direct him which way he needs to go, with one of the two streets he was looking at being the next one directly east from where we were.

He offers me some of his pizza, and I decline. Then I find where he was didn't sink in, because he asks again. So I tell him again, and he asks which direction the closer road is to where he needs to go. I point it out once again, and he offers me pizza again. Declining once more, he asks me yet again where he is, and where to go. Once more I point down the road the direction to go, and he turns from me as the crosswalk light changed and lets me go on my way. 

I turn to look back at him after walking across the crosswalk, and Pizza Zombie was shuffling along the sidewalk the road again. Going down the other road from that intersection, not the direction he needed to go. And not a direction that will help him, either, because that isn't a through road.

Date: 17 Apr 2015 - 21:25
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Daniel Meets A Crazy Person

So I was leaving my apartment to go pick up a pizza. There was a man out there wandering in the parking lot, I can see him from my doorstep looking down the stairwell, and he looks up at me. For a moment I didn't move, then finally headed down to my car, as he started backing away from me.

First of all he said something to me about needing carbon copies or something, not really sure. Something about needing more than one carbon copy or something. I said "okay" to him and continued to my car, as he turned to walk out of the parking lot. But before i could get in my car, he turned back to me and started again, this time going into a long preaching tirade of a word salad, with something about centrifuges (and putting the Pearl of Great Price in a centrifuge?), something about him having pride in his work, and at one point quoting the song Message in a Bottle by Sting. He went on for a couple minutes before finally stopping, and when he was done all I could say was "okay" again. 

As I pulled out of the parking lot, I saw he had stopped and engaged with someone else from my building who had gone out to smoke, and the expression on her face matched what I felt about the guy as well. He was gone when I got back with the pizza.

Date: 09 Feb 2015 - 17:50
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NaNoWriMo III: This Post Was On Hold

This post I had started writing a few weeks ago from my phone, on the 6th, saved it as in-progress, then forgot to come back to it to finish posting it. I'll leave it how it originally was as follows and not add anything more in this entry:

A little late because I got caught up in some other things, by i finished the book on the last day, complete from front to back, at a final word count of 75464. After that, since I want to order some draft prints from CreateSpace like I have done before, I jumped into editing and making corrections. Printing it out and marking mistakes, I found about 300 or so individual mistakes to correct, of badly worded sentences, plainly wrong words, ambiguous references to who is who in a sentence, and instances of using the same word multiple times in rapid succession. In addition to the individual mistakes I found a larger overall failure at getting he/she pronouns right (a problem I know I’ve had in other prices too), a bad sense of direction with continually mixing up east and west, and a bad habit of using slangish words like “got”. Also it seems I have a bad habit of making things ‘suddenly’ happen.

Date: 22 Dec 2014 - 08:08
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NaNoWriMo III: Stretch Goals

So it's near the end of the month, let's take a moment to look at the progress: 

What's that? Over the 50K goal? Yep. And I'm not done with the story yet, I still have quite a bit more to write. But unlike last year, where I just wrote to the minimum goal and quit writing because of other work, I want to finish. I want to finish by the end of the month. And i want to finish with an even better milestone, having really pushed myself. Because while I said originally I wasn't going to be particularly looking at publishing this in any way (although I will be, as before, ordering myself some self-published draft copies for my collection), I have been showing this to several people as I've went along, and will show it to some more, and I want them to have a full story to read. And I want myself to have a full story to read. I still don't know what new twists may come up that i hadn't planned, like has been happening so far. So I want something rich.

So I set a new goal. Finishing by the end of the month. Finishing with over 75K word count now, since I've surpassed the 50K goal already. I've come this far, but I still have a lot farther to go. But I can do this.

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Date: 25 Nov 2014 - 22:15
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NaNoWriMo III: This Isn't What We Meant

Writing fiction isn't so much about ordering characters around, so much as it is about letting them express their story their way. Sometimes you may get an idea of how a scene will go, but then when you actually sit to write it it doesn't work out the way you thought it would. Often only slightly, but sometimes drastically. Writing yesterday gave me one such experince like that: back when I first wrote down notes for this story I had thought up a scene for this book where Exelia would get drunk and get into a fierce argument with James. I had thought it all out, planned, and wrote down the points that I wanted to hit on in their argument. But when it came down to actually writing it, what the two of them did wasn't even close to what I had in mind. And it baffled and surprised me.

As it turned out, despite what I thought would happen, the character of Exelia's not at all an angry drunk. What I figured was sure to be an argument ended up turning into Exelia being a remorseful emotional wreck. And it worked perfectly. I sat back after finishing last night, looked at what i had written, and found no reason to try and change it to match what my idea was. This is who they were, this is what they did, and this is what fit their personalities. But then I was faced with a new problem. James was supposed to storm out in the argument, leave, and have the next thing in the story happen to him that would move the story along. Now, without the argument, there was no more reason for him to leave her, and now I didn't know how to move along the story.

It was on my mind all morning trying to reconsile this scene. I couldn't figure it out. Letting the characters do their own thing ended up veering so far off course than what I had envisioned that I couldn't find the path back. I spent all day trying to figure it out, trying to undo the mess they created, when i finally realized I should just leave it to them. Let them progress naturally from there. And so once i put hand to keyboard and started letting them play it out from there, everything fell neatly into place, creating the perfect opening to continue with where I wanted to take the story, the setup even better than what I had planned ahead for.

In short, sometimes it's best to just let the characters write your story themselves.

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Date: 08 Nov 2014 - 16:38
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