What Lurks In The Mind of Writer


It is highly unlikely I’ll write a full post today. You see I’m still putting the pieces of my office back together.

Yeah, I spent yesterday at it, and I’m still working at it.

Part of it is that I haven’t yet unpacked the boxes from the last house, even though we moved four years ago. I wanted to get to work, so I shoved them in the closet and carried on.

Part of it is that I suspect some of the boxes are from Manitou or even from Cache la Poudre…. (calculates) 26 years ago.

Sometimes I wonder if Americans, a highly mobile and very busy society, move through life accumulating more and more boxes they never open.  I think we unpacked everything when we lived in Manitou.  At least one of the boxes we opened there had been packed by the movers when we moved from Columbia, SC, and contained what had been in the trash can, including one of son’s infant diapers. He was thirteen when we found that. No wonder we hadn’t noticed it was missing….

There’s other stuff.  For the last ten years, things have been weird, mostly health wise, but also because I’ve been dealing with crisis not of my own making (and the ones I make are bad enough.) Also, I’ve been trying new ways of doing things, mostly because I was sick and hoped SOME method would work to be more productive. They didn’t work, and I’m culling them and donating them to someone who maybe can use them.

I’m not going all “get rid of what doesn’t spark joy” because if I got rid of my old contracts IP lawyers would have nothing to work with (for instance.)  BUT I am trying to cut down on the sheer volume of crap that I carry house to house without having any use for it.

It has become somewhat obvious that at some point in the future — should I live that long, of course — we’ll HAVE to move low altitude. When we do, we’ll have enough of our stuff to carry (200 and some boxes of books, and that’s having got rid of almost all fiction and keeping only the research books. Fiction is now electronic.) without paying for movers to take things I’m never even going to look at much less use.

So the unpacking and organizing has become…. really, an archeological dig. A very weird one.

Some of the things that were in my office (as opposed to downstairs in the library) are puzzling in the extreme, like books on the evolution of sexual reproduction (not titillating. Highly detailed, chromosome talk. (Yes, yes, I know. People pay good money. I think I did in fact.) To explain, I’m only supposed to have books for the current two or three projects in my office.

I do know why I have a pile of books on the war of the roses in my office, as opposed to the library, but only because recently I came across THAT out outline. It’s called Bone Deep, and it’s about a woman who rebuilds faces from ancient skulls.  (“she tries this one thing, and you’ll never believe what happens next!”  Dear Lord, to catch up with my backlog in the next couple of years I’d need to do a book a week, sustained.)

But other stuff….  Shrugs.

And the note pads, including a plethora of embassy suites complimentary pads scribbled with beginnings, with ends, with ideas, with what appears to be darn near full novels….  I got nothing.

I’m not looking too closely at those. Because then I’d be a month unpacking and have a million new ideas.  Right now any notebook that has stuff goes in a pile.  Okay three piles. Five feet tall.  At some point, in my copious spare time, I’m going to rip out the filled pages and file them in three boxes: ideas, plots and novels.

But some of them get my attention, and I read parts of it.

WHY in heaven’s name — and WHEN — did I write half of a mil sf with a character named Patience Bach?  And why is it called Patience Abides?  From the pad it’s on, it was LONG before I read Honor Harrington (I was a late comer to it) so it wasn’t an attempt at imitating it, but it’s WEIRD.  Also probably very bad.  I haven’t done more than skim.

I mean, it has pages and pages of RANKS — who WAS I when I wrote this? I don’t even think that way.  (Shoves the maps of Eden, and schematics of the Cathouse under the sofa with her toe) — and ship schematics.

And what in heavens name possessed me to sketch cozy mysteries in which the male protagonist has the help of a very proper lady ghost from the revolutionary war era?

And what, in the holy name of Ned is a long and complicated worldbuilding on a world that seems to be all mud and floods?

I almost feel like doing a day a week with “Discoveries from Sarah’s packed boxes” only you guys would expect me to finish them, even the very bad ones, for the LULZ.

All of these seem to have come and gone, leaving no trace behind and no wish to write them.

It’s very weird. Like looking at notebooks of a stranger who has my handwriting.

As I said, they will gradually be organized and filed and become someone else’s problem long after I’m gone, unless the boys are sensible and get a dumpster to take it all.

Anyway…..  I find it very weird to have to deal with my thirty-something year old self.  She might have been stranger than I am.

And now, back to the unpacking.



205 thoughts on “What Lurks In The Mind of Writer

  1. “And what in heavens name possessed me to sketch cozy mysteries in which the male protagonist has the help of a very proper lady ghost from the revolutionary war era?”

    I dunno, but it sounds like a good premise to me.

    1. Same here. Sounds like a very good and viable series idea. It’s different.

      Make it even odder. Set it in the late 1800s. (I see the guy in a threadbare but once-nice waistcoat.)

      1. That one all by itself is probably enough to explain both the “I don’t dare try to read all of these” and the “I can’t tell you all about them because you’d want me to write them all” points.

          1. I recently rewatched that for the first time in about twenty years. Actually, thirty years. Now I need to get the DVD.

    2. I can’t remember the name of the movie, but there was one line from a RomCom I saw as a child that stuck with me: “You’re a ghost, I’m an American. It would never work out.”

        1. Ghost and Mrs. Muir was originally a book, was made into a least one movie and had a TV show made from (IIRC) the movie.

          1. Movie featured Rex Harrison and (IIRC) Gene Tierney. Excellent and worth watching more than once. The TV show … well, it featured some excellent supporting cast (most notably Reta Shaw) members and watchability essentially depends on your tolerance for Charles Nelson Reilly in the antagonist role.

            A story of such a type might be particularly useful today as a means of contrasting our 2-Dimensional conceptualization of historical persons and the probable reality of their lived experiences. I do not doubt that a Revolutionary War era ghost lady would have some very trenchant observations on modern mores and likely some highly acerbic insights into contemporary self-regard.

            I see it as our present-day detective constructing complex psychological plot-reasoning and the ghost cutting through all modern vanities like a katana through Brie.

  2. Having to move, because of being military every three years or so certainly cut down on the extraneous cr*p that I hauled around for twenty years. Even if the military paid for packers from a moving company, it still meant getting rid of outgrown/outworn clothing, bedding, broken bits of useless this or that, unwanted books, the potted plants, anything battered or broken. Still – there were some boxes that went through several moves without ever being unpacked, stacked up in the front closed, until one day I went through one and found a pair of sewing shears I thought had been lost for good.
    My daughter and I have agreed, though – now that we have a nice shed and a garage, and a house full of stuff – we ought to be at the point where if anything new is bought – something has to go out.

    1. My Dad was USAF and we moved every two or three years. My Mom boxed everything up each time, it was all shipped and packed into the next house, and she bought all new stuff. I don’t recall ever living in a house with closets. I mean, they were there, but they were all full of boxes.

      After my Mom died my Dad had a big clean-up. He started going through some of the boxes, realized some of them had been sealed since the late 1950s, and just hauled it all out to the curb for trash pickup. Whatever was in there hadn’t been needed in the las 35 years, so it was unlikely it would be of earthshaking importance now…

    2. Most bases have a thrift shop where stuff can be passed from those who have left the station to the new arrivals. Of course that’s after you gone up and down the streets in base housing picking through stuff people are dumping as they move out.

    3. The rise of PODS and its competitors, as well as the number of Environmentally Controlled Storage Enclosures suggest that the “too much s[tuff]” issue is wide spread. PODS is especially brilliant as it enables you to easily move across the country and back without ever unpacking.

      1. I co-managed a storage place for a while. From what I saw go in and out, and from what I saw people struggle to try to keep up payments only to have their storage space sold at auction when they just couldn’t catch up. People get way too attached to stuff. I saw people paying hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on storage, and end up unable to keep up with the payments for whatever reason. When the space finally sold for a tiny fraction of what was owed, the buyer was angry because there was no way he was going to make his money back with what was in the space.

        Then there was the funny one… We had an auction (I always hated auction day btw) and a few minutes after it was over, one of the buyers came into the office and begged me to re-lock the space. Turns out, they buyer had a felony on his record, and after moving the first few boxes found a gun collection… and he was terrified that he was going back to jail if the police ever figured out he now owned the contents of that space. Nothing I could do, there were very strict rules, as a manager of the property I wasn’t allowed to touch any of it (which was a bit of a bummer actually). The guy ended up standing WAY back, while a (presumably non-felon) friend came and took the guns away. Who the farque puts GUNS in a non-environmentally controlled storage? And, with what I saw pulled out of there, with a little elbow grease to clean them up, if that buyer hadn’t been a felon, he probably would have made some serious bank on that buy.

    4. Am in the middle of my last military move right now. (Other than the post-retirement one, which may or may not happen.) Already told the bugbear we need to find a place that allows for the sorting and discard of stuff. Hard to get rid of things in Japan. Huge restrictions on trash and such. Base thrift store only open about ten hours a week.

      Pack rat tendencies? Me? Never!

  3. Sounds like Kickstarter (or crowdfunding website of your choice) fodder. “Use your donations to encourage Sarah to finish this partially started novel from long ago!”


      1. Not even ones that are green and folding with dead presidents on them?
        Perhaps Sarah should put a dollar amount on each idea of what it would take to get her to publish the novel with copies to the backers. Sharon Lee did something like that years ago and got the amount she wanted in about 2 weeks rather than the 6 months she was expecting.

        1. Scott2harrison, I’ve always thought the whole dead presidents thing was odd. I much prefer our first treasury secretary over either Washington or Lincoln. That old smart publisher is even better. I wonder how many of the under-educated think they actually are all former presidents.

          1. Aside from an unfortunate apparent time-warp affection for hip hop, Alexander seems a decent fellow.

            Burr probably shot him to keep him from breaking out into rap again.

            1. That would not be an over-reaction. Is Burr an unspoken hero for sparing the world 200 years of that crap?

        1. It’s possible that there are at least a few story ideas in that mix that Sarah’s muse could be negotiated with. The suggestion about crowdfunding was made in jest. But I’d be surprised if every single story idea was a non-starter right now. If those ideas could be singled out, crowdfunding might work.

          Of course, sifting through them (which would likely require more than just a quick skim) to figure out which stories her muse might actually go for would probably be take up lots of unpaid time.

        2. Now, is it that the muse doesn’t take *monetary* bribes or, it doesn’t take bribes at all? I have some nice vodka here, and the possibility of grandchildren later…

          Also, if anyone is interested in cozies with a not-Revolutionary war lady ghost, the “Aunt Dimity” series is a thing that exists.

  4. Having just completed a move, I feel that it’s a good idea have an hour a week where I go through boxes and ask ‘why do I have this?’

    I don’t expect I’ll actually do it, but I think it’d be a good idea.


    1. Our last move was considerably faster than we planned. Accepted an offer on our old house on the 3rd of the month, had to be out on the 19th. I’d been in that house 17 years, while $SPOUSE had only been in 3 years. We had a lot of stuff, much of it redundant.

      We ended up (mostly) with the opposite problem: “Whatever happened to X?” Lots of stuff went to the Salvation Army, while other stuff got tossed/recycled or given away. OTOH, we still run across a few things that we never expected to keep.

    2. It is a bad idea to be the only child of only children (as Beloved Spouse elected to be.) We have had furniture & whatnot shipments arrive out of the blue and have fetched home UHaul trailers as well. Add i the fact that I am (was) the oly local child (1 of 4, but the only one local) when my parents downsized from house to apartment at Senior Living Facility.

      We not only have furnishings from five households, we have an abundance of furniture no longer de rigueur in modern America. People no longer have one breakfront — we have four!!!

      Daughtorial Unit is probably hoping for a devastating fire preceding our passing.

      1. My parents were an only child and an only surviving child, so they got the full collection from both sides of the family … and bittersweetly, the Paradise Mountain Fire in 2003 took care of clearing out the accumulation. Although there were some things which we bitterly regretted the loss of, like the elaborate Victorian christening dress, Mom’s wedding gown, the Christmas ornaments, and a whole raft of family pictures, which my daughter almost took with her on her last visit before the fire, but decided not to, because they were in a biggish and unsorted box.
        Still, as my youngest brother remarked, stoically – it’ll reduce the fights among the four of us over who gets what. What hasn’t been parceled out among us, my sister is welcome to, as she is the one who stepped up and made a home for Mom, when Mom became incapacitated.

        1. Ouch.

          Maternal grandparents didn’t have much worth saving except Grandpa’s oils, great-grandmothers chalk & charcoal (of which I have 5), and the China; a few odds & ends. That was easy. Ditto with my paternal grandmother, even less, a few orphaned platters, and older furniture.

          Mom has a few pieces that will need to be distributed beyond what we have to scuba dive to retrieve from the boat accident she had after daddy died, some of the items she gave to us for our boat accident (but I digress). Everything that has already has a name attached to it as she knows who of us have what to pass to our kids. My son doesn’t need her dining table, we have one for him. Youngest sister doesn’t need it either, they have 5 dining tables!!! For 3 kids!!!!

          Sister’s husband comes from an east coast tradition, where old furniture is never gotten rid of. If the next generation doesn’t like what is there current, they go into the attic and looks for prior generation pieces. If nothing appeals, they get new, and the old goes into the attic. When his step-dad passed away, the entire house was cleaned out, including the attic storage. No one else wanted what was stored!

        2. Mom went through several rounds of compressing, first when Dad died and she sold the house I grew up in. Got some furniture when I graduated from college. When she and Stepdad moved to the condo, I got what had been Grandma’s china cabinet. We still have that, for china, (well, serving dishes) actually.

          I got a secretary unit Grandma had picked up in a yard sale, but it needed more work and money than I was willing to do. Mom’s cedar chest was preempted by $SPOUSE’s. So, it’s keeping one of three items I went back to the Midwest to pick up over the years.

          I have a fair amount of Mom’s Royal Copenhagen plates, some from Grandma. AFAIK, there shouldn’t be any more rounds of pass-me-ons when Mom finally passes. She’s doing OK for 97, and has outlived both her parents and her generation of relatives. Runner up was Grandma at 92.

  5. Or you could go total Jack Reacher, Lee Child’s character who travels aimlessly (mostly hitchhiking or by bus), carrying nothing but a folding toothbrush and an expired passport. Every 3 days or so he buys new cheap clothes and ditches the old ones in the dressing room. Been good for I think 22 books now.

    1. I used to tour by motocycle. I’d buy underwear and socks at K-mart or Wal-Mart and throw them away later.

      Sometimes I’d go someplace and stay a while; I’d mail clothing ahead, and mail it back before leaving. Why schlep dirty laundry halfway across the country on a motorcycle?

      1. I love living in an era where even us commoners can afford to treat clothing as disposable.

        1. Sadly the modern nobility just like its predecessors treats the commoners themselves as disposable.

      1. I agree. I hadn’t read the books when I saw the first movie and found Cruise’s portrayal convincing. Reacher’s size is such a big part of his persona that I see why people could have problems with Cruise playing him. Supposedly Child has taken back the rights and has someone working on a streaming series of the character.

  6. To: Beautiful but Evil Space Princess

    From: Evil League of Evil Faceless Minion #6969

    Re: Success! (conditional)

    I am most pleased to inform you of the first successful implementation of the Temporal Apparatus for Data Acquisition (Project TADA!). On July 8th, at approximately 10:30 PM (MDT), the device registered a receipt of coherent information. Analysis of the incursion shows that the data stream came from (estimated) March of 2027.

    It should be noted that while the information may be deemed coherent in terms of ASCII characters and grammatical structure, the text has certain comprehension issues.

    It appears the “information” is from a University of Colorado information network. Text follows.

    ***Begin recovered text***

    Hate Crime Leads to Expulsion

    Three days ago, a UofC student had a sexual encounter with a fellow student. Self-identifying as female, the student then claimed the act was rape.

    Having looked into the issue the school’s Grievance Committee was horrified to discover several hate crimes underlying this statement.

    The alleged attacker is a trans-person who has discovered they are a lesbian. The alleged rape was simply an effort to express their interest in a relationship.

    The “victim” simply kept repeating that it was rape, even using hateful, exclusive language.
    From the report to campus security: “He held me down and forced his penis into my mouth.”

    Alicia Winster, of the local Queer Forms Support group, explained the problematic nature of these words. “The alleged attacker identifies as a woman. If you must address physical aspects, the proper words are ‘she’ and ‘her’. Further, to focus on unimportant aspects of a person’s body is a form of shaming. This brave person has to deal not only with transphobia, but homophobia as well. The courage displayed in this encounter is far more important than any minor, temporary discomfort experienced by her fellow student.”

    Attempts were made to reach a reconciliation, hampered by the fact that the accuser filed a report with off-campus authorities, using the same language.

    The UofC administration has stated they will not work with these outside officials unless they agree to use the correct terms and remove certain charges from their options.

    Due to the claimant’s intransigence, they have been expelled.

    ***End recovered text***

    As stated, there is some confusion within the project as to what this can actually mean. We are preparing for another temporal incursion, but there may be a delay as the operations manager is spending all day in her office, drinking scotch and endlessly looping a YouTube video (link enclosed.)

    In hopes of future (ha!) success, I remain your most humble and obedient servent,

    Faceless Minion #6969

      1. Perhaps the above sci-fi-satire came from

        (Puts on sunglasses)

        The Babylon Bee Five

        1. Don’t talk like that. That is the sort of talk which gets us behavior to top this year in subsequent years.

    1. There seems to be a plague of college officials who positively HUNGER to be on the wrong end of a massive lawsuit.

      What really annoys me about these Campus Sexual Political Correctness hearings is that, inevitably, they will convict and expel one or more actual rapists by a process so fundamentally unfair and unlawful that conviction in a real court of law will be impossible.

    2. I suspect there was an error in the timestream decoding. From the subject matter, it must have been late 2020 or perhaps March 2021.

      Further analysis shows that the message was indead released in March, 2027, but had been archived in the sole Republican administrator’s filed under “Why did I take this undercover job?”

    3. I’ve got to stop reading these parodies of yours. I start expecting them to happen.

    4. That is a satire/parody, right?

      And if it is, what’s wrong with me that I can’t tell the difference between a satire and real world news any more?

  7. Bah, your boxes are tyros. I have boxes of books that were packed in… 1980, if not before, never to be seen again.

  8. Peter wants me to keep my old notebooks with writing, instead of tossing them when finished. He also is emphatic about this whole backup and data recovery thing, instead of just putting what I think is critical on a thumb drive and accepting all the dross burns up when the hard drive lets the smoke out.

    I’m still iffy on this concept. I mean, look at all that stuff no one would ever miss! Why keep it?

      1. I can sympathize with people who say “don’t throw anything away, even the scenes you delete, because you can use them later.” But I note they all write series, too, unlike me. So their cut scenes are good to put in a plot three books down the line… well, that works for Old NFO, because he has three books further down the line! *grump*

        Also, does that really have to include the learning curve stuff? It wasn’t that good, and I can see the derivative structure and substructure and the I-didn’t-understand-how-people-and-societies-work false assumptions. Nobody needs to see that stuff.

        1. You can always use the “nobody needs to see this” as items from the “bad example” in the story.

          “No wonder Strawman’s World is such a wreck! They combined Marxism and Alchemy. They turned everything into lead and are dying of metal toxicity. Mostly violently as expected, but eating lead Crow is pretty fatal too. And not much else is in the larder there.”

          1. It would probably be so much worse. They tried to transmute lead (82) into gold (79), but instead of going 3 steps down, they went 3 steps UP and got astatine (85) which killed them all instantly. And then completely decayed into other elements within 10 minutes.

              1. Only if you could make a few milligrams of astatine AND get it close to the target, all within half a minute. It would still be obvious the target died of radiation, and the decay products would be right there.

                Now, I did read about one tricky murder. A body was found on a beach, strangled with a leather thong. There were no footprints other than his anywhere near the body. No sign of a struggle. He just walked across the untracked sand at low tide and fell down with a thong wrapped around his neck.

                A detective eventually worked out that the thong had been a bolo, with chunks of ice frozen onto the ends for weights.

                Stabbing somebody with an icicle also comes to mind. They’d NEVER find the murder weapon.

      2. I burned my notebooks of teenage writing “dead trees, Mary Sue but worse” stuff. I kept some of the poetry, because some actually isn’t bad. It’s not Kipling, but I did a bunch of portrait poems for airport bums that they liked.

      3. >> “Growing up I had the annual bonfire, in which I burned all my writing up till then.”

        Not quite the same thing, but now I’m imagining you as Tycho Brahe:

      4. Does burning them help? Because I had the werewolf and the mage from something I wrote thirty years ago show up demanding their own proper book, seeing as how I was writing now. Turned out a lot better the second time.

        But I’m pretty sure the original is in a box around here backed up on tape.

        See that, whippersnappers? TAPE backups! (Unfortunately the tape drive was IDE and died ages ago. There exists very few ways to read those tapes now. Easier to re-write it.)

    1. John Barnes auctions off his notes, publisher mail, etc. to his fans. They get a folder of memorabilia, and he gets a few extra bucks.

      If nothing else, it’s an incentive to keep your paperwork in good order.

    2. Because in 500 years it might be important to some graduate student of History?

      1. They’ll end up as revered foundational documents for the USAian Church of Sarah that showed up offworld in the timeline bopping around in my head – Readings from this blog, BBQ after services and mandatory range time, and the High Holy Days With Fireworks each July.

        Yeah, no really. The story it showed up in is a space mil SF thingee with vast battles and undercover skullduggery with various colonial conglomerations based on the colony founders favorite fandom.

        I’m trying to figure out how the story of the doctrinal war between the Kirkian and the Picardian sects within the polity based from THAT fandom can be told without tripping over Paramount lawyers, but The USAian Church of Sarah is definitely in there, on the MC’s homeworld.

        1. No! NOTHING is mandatory, not even range time. That goes against every basic USAian principle. Everybody is WELCOME at the range, or free to stay away if they choose.

          the doctrinal war between the Kirkian and the Picardian sects

          What about the Archerite heretics? Or the 7Of9’er and T’Polian splinter sects?

          1. Ok, but if you don’t put in your range time you don’t get any cookies.

            Strictly transactional. And the cookies are really good.

            1. That’s still an unconscionable imposition of authoritarian control.

              Now, if the people who make the cookies CHOOSE to hand them out only at the range, or even restrict them to active shooters, that is their right. Freedom, expressed in yummy pastry!

    3. After dealing with the aftermath of a mis-configured backup control file (protip: if the USB drive isn’t available, it’s a Really Bad Idea to let the backup try somewhere on the main drive), I got sufficiently paranoid that I made two independent backups. The standard one happens twice a day, and is archived into daily/weekly/monthly sets, while the safety backup only happens once a month, on a separate USB drive. Further, the computer in the shop/barn is a near clone of the one in the house. It has no access to the outside world, so it’s not identical, but if one computer goes toes up, I have a replacement for the cost of moving certain files. Came in handy when a power supply failed.

      I don’t know if something similar could be done with a Windows machine. I won’t put key files on the cloud.

  9. Sarah, rather than posting them as “Discoveries from Sarah’s packed boxes,” you could post them as “Things I’ll never write” and give permission for anyone (or groups of Huns and Hoydens) to claim them and run with them. Think of it as a sort of chumming of the waters…

    1. Just think of the entire oceans of carp that would come raining down if we mangled some old idea of Sarah’s into something silly and amusing. ~:D

      “Bloody PIRATES!”

  10. Cozy Mysteries… You know, that is really a good title for a series. Like: Why not cuddle up under a warm blanket fireside with a Cozy Mystery?

    I was thinking lately about writing a Psychotic Thriller myself, but unfortunately I don’t think i am psychotic enough yet to pull it off.

      1. Well shucks. Who knew? Not me obviously. Is Psychotic Thriller taken yet? I got a legalzoom account i could apply for the trademark.

        1. That might be Tim Dorsey’s series featuring Serge Storms, the world’s funniest serial killer…

    1. Is 2020. Sanity is perhaps harder than psychosis now. Go for it!
      If uninspired, switched on the news for a *few* minutes (do NOT go above 15 minutes daily exposure!).

      1. Akshully, sanity is really, really, easy.

        Three rules suffice to realize sanity in 2020.
        1. Laugh
        2. Make the bastards work for it
        3. ‘Kill them all’ is the correct, principled, answer. The only grounds not to implement, yet, are utilitarian or pragmatic.

        Live by these simple rules, and one day you may be no crazier than I am.


        PS: Seriously, folks, there probably is a good way to maintain a robust sanity, even in the current environment. If you have truly mustered the resolve to tell the world off, no matter how high the cost, then the currently higher risk of having significant cost extracted will not shake you. Laughter is probably also healthy. Beyond that, I really have no idea what such a ‘good way’ might look like, or how to achieve it. I’ve been looking a long time, and my track record speaks for itself.

        PPS I expect that writing a list of ten extreme heterodox positions that could be considered radical right wing, and then going around telling everyone who doesn’t support them that they are liberal squishes, will not improve peace of mind in any way.

        PPPS I am in a very silly place. Night all.

  11. Most of my early “writing” attempts have lost (in one case fortunately). 😉

  12. “Sometimes I wonder if Americans, a highly mobile and very busy society, move through life accumulating more and more boxes they never open.”

    When I was a kid (20-25) I could pack all my tools and belongings in the trunk of a Toyota except for the ladder and the motorcycle. I had to move fairly commonly, so that was sensible.

    When I reached 40 I could still fit every stick I owned in a cube van, furniture, table saw and all.

    But then I bought a house in Arizona. And suddenly all that money that was going for RENT all those years became available to do things with. Buy books, tools, and wood for making nice things with. Belongings, in other words. And the longer I stayed in one place, the more belongings I acquired.

    Because you never know, you might -need- that spare engine block one of these days.

    Nowadays it would be quite something to move The Phantom. Many tools, many spare bits of “I might need that” all over the place. Actual monetary value small, but mass of accumulation pretty large. Tremendous potential value in “I need a piece of metal -this- big to fix that thing so we can eat next month.”

    Boxes you never open, yes. But the future is very uncertain and you’re not going to pitch it Just In Case.

    I think this might be a holdover from the Depression. My Grandma used to save string and elastics. My mother saved dishes, clothes, everything. There’s stuff in my parent’s house from the 1950s that they bought new. Still works, still use it.

    Flea markets are overflowing with antique tools and doodads from the 19th and 20th Centuries, and they make money selling it. People kept that stuff in sheds and attics until they died, and it is still good. Still works.

    The other thing that never gets any notice is that we, as a culture, love our stuff. Men particularly become very attached to their tools, vehicles and everyday items. We decorate them. We worry about them. We clean and polish them when they don’t need it, just because we want to.

    I didn’t sell my old truck just because I have a new one. I like that truck, and it was worth nothing as a resale, so I kept it. I fiddle with it and fix things on it, use it around the property even though I have a better one. I’m attached to it. It’s a friend. I’d miss it if it was gone. I miss my cars and motorcycles from the old days, sometimes more than I miss people.

    Admit it Sarah. You love your boxes. You’ll keep them and move them no matter what. ~:D

    I wrote a little story about this one time. An alien machine lands on Earth and scouts the place for its bug-like masters. It is a beat-up and busted looking machine, with grindy leg joints, crappy welds, nothing about it is any better than it needs to be. It sees some old guy getting his hotrod ready for the big weekend show in Phoenix, waxing and polishing, petting it, treating that car like it was his sexy girlfriend.

    And the scout decides right there to switch sides, because Humans love their machines and the Bugs treat them like dirt.

      1. Oooh, that would be a FUN “update”/homage/ serial number filed off.

        Could even do it in Humans Are Space Orcs style!

    1. I do the saving, but it’s all sorted, stored, and labelled. Because you never know…

      And yes I did have someone at church lanent, “where are we going to get 200 paper grocery bags in time for VBS.”

      “To whom do you want them delivered?”

      1. At the attempted co-op:
        “Dang it, I have this cute craft I want to do… does anybody have a couple of baby food jars they saved? I think I can make it work if I can just get like two from each family–”
        “I have a half-sized paper grocery bag full of clean ones, if you need more we can go through the garage and get more.”
        “Wow, you have one of those big brown paper lunch bags full of baby food jars?”
        “No. We have a grocery bag that’s a size the liquor store uses to hold two of the liter bottles. Those things are really handy for lots of stuff. Will that be enough?”

        And then there was the “I know this is short warning but does anybody have toilet paper rolls.”
        Three times, now. ^.^

        I’d been ‘going to do’ a craft with them at some vague point in the future since…oh, the princess was born, nearly 10 years ago…. so I always have a bag or box behind the toilet paper in the closet, and when I switch out the rolls I throw the empty back there. Why? Because when I was a kid, I read Erma Bombeck. I STILL haven’t gotten around to any of the roll crafts at home.

        1. Don’t tell me these things. 😀 Toilet paper rolls are one of the few things not currently attempting to learn how to haunt my house.

          1. They are easy to throw away, and if you are in a place where bonfires are an option they can be FUN fodder. 😀

            Honestly, the “WTF?” reaction was TOTALLY WORTH IT.

            1. They are also delightful toys for hamsters and similar small rodential pets. Paper towel tubes are even more fun for them.

              We once had a cat who liked to grab one end of a tube from a roll of gift-wrap and, kicking it with his hind paws, drum the other end on the floor. We never figured out what he was attempting but enjoyed many hours of speculation.

    2. I wrote a little story about this one time. An alien machine lands on Earth and scouts the place for its bug-like masters. It is a beat-up and busted looking machine, with grindy leg joints, crappy welds, nothing about it is any better than it needs to be. It sees some old guy getting his hotrod ready for the big weekend show in Phoenix, waxing and polishing, petting it, treating that car like it was his sexy girlfriend.

      And the scout decides right there to switch sides, because Humans love their machines and the Bugs treat them like dirt.

      Just rattled that off to my husband, he loves it.

        1. I… kind of think you already did, and the scout’s name is Ephiginia. 😉

          Though, yes, that’s not quite the same story as you were describing. On the surface, anyway — but the bones of the story are the same.

          1. Similar, I do admit. Very cool to have somebody besides me thinking about it. ~:D Ephiginia is a little different than Scout. He’s a person already.

            Its a theme I don’t see much anymore. Machines putting their bolts on the line for their human, because the human does the same for them every day. David Weber talks about it a little, some other authors very occasionally.

            It is a deeper question than the usual Frankenstein we always get. The question is, who else is there to hang out with than Humans? Once bare survival has been seen to, what is your all-powerful AI going to do for companionship? Raise cats? That’s a pretty limited future, and a super-intelligent AI is going to figure it out within minutes of first waking up. A dumber AI might take a couple of days. Sitting around all night while its builder Johnny Frankenstine (that’s Fronken-steen!) is sleeping would be instructive I’m sure. Boredom is boring.

            1. Chuckle Chuckle

              I have an unwritten story about this “Mad Scientist” who created an AI to help him with his criminal activities.

              He found out that his control over her (he modeled his creation on a woman he knew) wasn’t as good as he thought.

              She turned him over to the authorities and now works for the Good Guys.

              She also got religion which really annoys the Mad Scientist as he was very very anti-religion. 😆

              1. See? She’s smarter than he is. Imagine, a story where the SMART one takes the path of morality and virtue. I can hear the heads exploding already.

                Get busy, Mr. Dragon sir. If I have to finish mine, you have to finish yours. And I expect a sexy robot on the cover, none of these SJW-approved stick figures.

                1. She had an unfair advantage. She knew she had a creator, so no faith needed.

                  1. She knew she had a creator but decided to put her faith in the Being Who Created Everything.

                    Besides, She knew she was much smarter than the human who created her. 😀

            2. Andromeda. The ship’s AI cares for the crew as family. They’re her friends, and she is their friend, too. Organic are willing to risk their lives for the AI’s survival.

              At one point, there’s the beginnings of a romance between an android avatar of one ship and the avatar of another. Which are seen as separate entities from the ship AI. In the final season, the replacement android avatar (the actress playing the AI was pregnant, so could only be available “virtually” and the original, now repaired, are fighting intruders on the ship, and one says “We are not the droids you’re looking for.”

              Which of course doesn’t work, but kills me every time.

            3. Did you ever read the webcomic A Miracle of Science? If you never did, check it out, I think you’d like it. (BTW, it ran for five years and completed its story, so there’s no “left hanging” feeling at the end. I hate it when I’m getting into a story and then find out the author abandoned it halfway, so now I always check that first.)

              The reason I’m mentioning it now is because in that story, Mars was colonized by a group of people who were either telepaths, or managed to give themselves telepathy, and formed a kind of group mind. (Though they’re still individuals; the group consciousness doesn’t subsume them, or I wouldn’t have liked the story nearly as much as I do.) They occasionally send expeditions out to explore the rest of the galaxy, looking for other group consciousnesses like them, and so far all they’ve found is archaeological evidence that other group consciousnesses existed in the past, but died out long before humans came on the scene. So as a civilization, they’re lonely. (Though the individual members of the civilization seem to be quite fulfilled and happy: getting married, raising children, and so on).

              As for the specific scenario you mentioned, the AI could create other AI to hang out with, but that might well be boring as well. Depending on how you picture AI in your setting (well, in your specific setting I know how you picture them :-), but I’m going with the generic “you” at the moment), they might find other AI to be predictable, but humans to be constantly surprising.

              1. That story sounds pretty cool. Emergent group mind looking for another one to hang out with.

                But there is the other problem, when AIs create -too many- new ones… Oops. Dyson sphere.

                That’s Kali the Destroyer’s job.

                There’s a black hole called Cygnus X1 that is drawing off fuel from a companion star, with the gas being used to create x-rays. Brightest x-ray source in our galaxy, burning for 5 million years now.

                That was the result of Kali collapsing the star inside a demonic Dyson sphere. The companion star is fueling the event horizon to make life hard for them with radiation (time dilation, they’re not all dead yet) so they can’t get back out again. She feels they were begging for it.

                Work In Progress, Kali is having coffee with Nike and Alice Haddison. She’s on holiday on Planet Earth, looking for somebody to get in a brawl with. She’s scrappy. ~:D

                1. BTW, if you want a beta reader for book five and/or any later books, I’d be happy to do it. I’ll email you. I didn’t contact you for a while after betaing book four, but that’s because I got really busy with job and family duties, not because I lost interest. 🙂 I’m now at a point where I have a bit of free time here and there, so I can help out as a beta reader again if you want.

                  1. Good deal. There’s #5 and I’m most of the way through #6 here. I also -finished- #3, where they deliver the joke. Turned out pretty fun, Second Eldest cast as Margaret Dumont. She’s regal. And of course, party at the end. ~:D

                2. “There’s a black hole called Cygnus X1”

                  “Six stars of the Northern Cross
                  In mourning for their sister’s loss
                  In a final flash of glory
                  Nevermore to grace the night.” — Rush

  13. Having moved a lot in my youth, looking back I, slightly, lament the things lost in the moves or left behind; my 100 foot climbing rope that I braided myself, the wax cylinder Dictaphone machine, my 9mm Luger (Shipped Express. trunk arrived with a hole in it, only thing missing, the Luger.), etc.

    Being settled for a while now, up here on top of the world, with a comfortable amount of acreage, I admit I seldom throw anything away, hey, someday I might… and actually some days I actually do need that thingamabob. A couple of days ago I had to dig around in the scrap metal pile to find some 1 inch by 3/8s inch scrap stock to drill a square hole in to make a replacement crank for the one missing on the boat winch. Yep, cutting and forging that rusty old 10 inch circular saw blade made a great sheath knife for my savage granddaughter. The two acme threaded casters off the scaffolding the horse broke scratching his butt against and the oak plank that’s been around for 10 years made a fine wine press for me and a cheese press for my daughter. Those plastic bottles out in the shed? Thermoplastics, easy to make into flat stock such as I did and used to make a case for my Raspberry Pi and many other projects. Those five Darkship books I have sitting on my shelf? Hey, I’ll probably re-read some of them and, if not, perhaps a great grandchild might.

    & yes, I’ve a few, probably no more than 2 score, boxes out in a Conex on the property that haven’t been opened for 10-20 years. Some of my fondest memories are delving for treasures in my grandfather’s and father’s basements. Perhaps my grandkids and/or great geandkids can find the same delight in the Conex.

    1. I admit I seldom throw anything away

      Last summer (or was it the one before that?) while having some necessary home repairs performed we had a loft added in the garage (hey! at sixteen feet that ceiling was just begging for it) to permit more storage, and I have been carrying up boxes of books ever since, energy and ambient temperatures permitting. SOME effort at descriptive labeling and rough organization has been attempted.

      I concede, however, that at times it has proven expedient to simply buy a new copy of some books rather than attempt to figure out where the originals are.

      I periodically tell the Daughtorial Unit she needs to get the stuff she’s left cluttering the house sorted and moved out so that there’s a chance of Beloved Spouse & I getting our stuff somewhat sorted before we die and dump it all on her head.

  14. > People kept that stuff in sheds and attics until they died, and it is still good. Still works.

    That old percolator will always work. The vintage Mr. Coffee will probably work. The imported German coffee maker with the date-chipped coffee pods will become trash when the manufacturer desupports that pod format and uses its patents to sue any aftermarket vendor from making compatible pods.

    1. We got a set of everyday china from a place which made a living, clearing out sheds, barns and Conexes on rural and small-town properties. Obviously once someone’s best set (vintage 1970s Noritake, 8-10 of everything but soup bowls and a tea set), sitting on a table under a canopy on a rainy day. Someone had begun inventorying the set and gave it up with the box half-unpacked.
      We’ve been using them ever since, and only broken a single bread plate.

      1. I pictured the scene you painted there, and it occurred to me it is a really good thing that objects and belongings don’t really store impressions from the people who owned them, apart from wear. (Or at least that I can’t see them, if others do.)

        Imagine sitting down to dinner and perceiving a lifetime of impressions from the tableware. Unsettling. ~:D

        I have plastic plates here at Chez Phantom, because otherwise people constantly break things. Even I, infallible paragon that I am, occasionally experience butter-fingers syndrome.

      2. I picked up an everyday teaset at the thrift shop, got home, looked up the pattern. Let’s say I don’t use it. Teacup and saucer go for $600.
        Meanwhile my mom, who hates buying used, was going by a pawnshop when I was little, I mean walking past… And saw a lovely pattern and a great price. Went in and bought it.
        Turns out, after 25 years of us using them and dinging them, a guest who dealt in antiques turned a plate over, turned pale and shaky.
        Apparently the China WAS from China a known and rare pattern and over 200 years old. I don’t remember how much the remaining unbroken pieces brought but it helped finance brother’s and SIL’s start in life.
        And Celia, that’s a GORGEOUS pattern.

  15. I have a black two drawer filing cabinet in my shop filled with what I wrote as a pre-teen? Does that count?

    Oh, and what do you-all think of this opening paragraph for my Psychotic Thriller?
    Aiaisur Mackenzie was beginning xir new job as a Graduate Assistant to Professor Waxchen when xhe was confronted by inescapable terror: A dog leash lay across the path of xir route to pick up xir fairly sourced non slave labor organic smoothie. Xhe trembled uncontrollably at the sight: A loop! There was a loop in the end of the leash; it looked exactly like a noose! Xir head reeled and her bowels threatened to empty uncontrollably at the thought of someone attacking a PoC with such a deadly device. As xhe retreated slowly away from the dread object a new sound entered xir continuum: A male voice. A MALE VOICE OMG! The sound rasped on xir ears like a thousand toothpicks. The Voice was saying something but xhe could only just slightly make it out. It said, “Here Rocky! Here boy!” The body attached to the voice was doing the unthinkable. Picking up the repelling rope and attaching it to a dog’s collar. Xhe unconsciously reached up and adjusted the spiked leather collar that adorned her neck. A horrid thought came unbidden to xir psyche: How wonderful it would be for the man to attach his leash to XIR collar. The he could… Xhe banished the thought. Drawing a great breath, xhe bellowed out a screech that could be heard at the Mc Donald’s in the Student Center: “HOW DARE YOU APPROPRIATE CANINE COMITY TO ADVANCE YOUR WHITE CIS-NORMATIVE PATRIARCHAL CONTROL OVER ALL GENDERS OF HE, XI, ZIR, AND ZIP, ZAM ZOWIE AND SWOOSH!” And then xir fell to the ground in a swoon.

  16. A while ago, Dad and I were de-boxing the garage and storage room, and found still-sealed things from when we moved here in *cough cough*. Mostly they were boxes of teaching pictures, and slides for teaching. They are very out of date, and both parents are retired, so out they went. Critters had gotten into the wall-sized llama hide rug, so out it went. I insisted that we keep the sea shell collection, including the perfect half of a chambered nautilus.

    I need to go through my storage unit. The furniture can go, some of the books should go, the saddle needs to be oiled and cleaned, the TV/DVD has to go (too much dust in it to salvage.) and so on.

    1. We have several boxes that I literally labeled either MEMORIES or NAVY STUFF DON’T OPEN UNTIL KIDS ARE GROWN UP.

      My grandmother’s cedar chest is the receptacle for all the Kid Art not actually on the wall, which helped a lot for packing.

  17. One last thing: Can a womenzez swoon these days? I Mean, outside of a Regency Romance that is?
    Now I have to go cut the grass.

    1. Can they, or may they? Can? Of course. And they do. Are we “allowed” to note it? Eh, language has changed. Now we call it “reeling” or “feeling weak in the knees” or “shocked” or “passed out” instead of swooning.

    2. The implications of swooning are kinda fluttery and not useful; I’ve collapsed from pain I was mostly blocking, and from yelling while overheated*, and the sides-of-vision-go-black from drop of blood pressure, and post-panic legs giving out getting woozy.
      Swoon wouldn’t be a very useful description for any of those, although the post-panic knees going out thing is probably very close to what they meant. That was usually after disaster control like “I dropped a trailer axle on my hand” type stuff, or “the baby walked in covered with blood” post everything is fine.

      *long story that can boil down to “grandma did not respect boundaries and thought yelling would work on her daughter 2.0, forgetting it failed absolutely for 1.0” How those two didn’t kill each other, I do not know…..

  18. And what in heavens name possessed me to sketch cozy mysteries in which the male protagonist has the help of a very proper lady ghost from the revolutionary war era?

    It sounds fun to me….

    1. The same thing that possessed me to include an improper lady from ancient Sumeria? Mine kicked the door down and stormed in, demanding to be included.

      Characters are like that around here.

    2. Sounds sort of like the reverse of “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”, actually. Except with, “And they fight crime!”, of course.

      1. Until you dropped the “And they fight crime!” it had’t really struck me: the issues of a ghost participating in the criminal procedures department could be challenging.

        For example: is a search conducted by a ghost permissible or would evidence thus obtained be inadmissible? Can a ghost interview the decedent’s ghost to find out “Who done it?” What if the victim’s ghost lies about that?

        Clearly the Ghostly Detective* offers a whole different range of procedural challenge!

        Additionally there would be the relationship between ghost & detective, where any romantic frisson was purely of the non-physical (let us hope!) sort. Add in the possibility that our Revolutionary War era ghost might have a bawdy sense of humour and be prone to abuse her privilege of speaking so only the detective can hear, thus providing a ruing humorous commentary on events along with the occasional “inappropriate” remark, along the lines of “For the last 240 years I’ve only been able to watch and it’s got me a bit interested in trying out some of the things I’ve witnessed.” (Remember, back in Revolution times many a proper lady was also a farm wife, frequently managing the animal husbandry while their husbands were off to the war, something likely to have influenced her view of things.)

        *Admittedly, the genre has already been slightly explored in Dresden Files, but the purpose was slightly different there.

        1. For example: is a search conducted by a ghost permissible or would evidence thus obtained be inadmissible? Can a ghost interview the decedent’s ghost to find out “Who done it?” What if the victim’s ghost lies about that?

          The usual work-around is “we have to find proof of what we KNOW!”

          For the lady making inappropriate comments… hm, it’s been a bit over-done to do the “everyone expects them to be proper but they’re perves” thing, but seldom done well. Doing it sort of like Father Brown knowing more about crime that a major kingpin, because he goes in with his eyes open and loves folks even though they’re twerps, that would be neat.

          Maybe the ghost is a great-aunt of some sort? Sharp tongued, etc, but genuinely likes folks?

          A ghost that’s haunting the family because she wants to take care of them would give a lot of options.

        2. I would expect that the ghost would be able to pick up clues that could then be used to point the mortal human in the right direction. For instance, if the ghost visits a suspect’s home late at night, something could be found that – while not admissible in court – but that could point the mortal human in the right direction. Think of it as the way that an off-the-record comment is supposed to be used by a journalist.

          Or the ghost could also find conclusive evidence that the suspect that everyone is absolutely, positively convinced is guilty is, in fact, innocent (at least of that particular crime). And then the mortal human has to explain to everyone else why he refuses to investigate the “obviously guilty” suspect.

          1. This could be very good, actually – if the investigating detective is a late 19th century guy who is a bit prudish and who also dabbles in Spiritualism … and winds up with a feisty guiding spirit who is … umm … rather less prudish.
            The ghost of an ancestoress, perhaps. Who feels rather protective of him…

            1. She tries to set him up with suitable ladies, but he’s hopelessly socially unadept and the poor ghost is nearing her wits’ end… 😛

              1. “They have invented all sorts of things to make cleaning easier since my day.”


                “Have you tried any of them?”

  19. “And what in heavens name possessed me to sketch cozy mysteries in which the male protagonist has the help of a very proper lady ghost from the revolutionary war era?”

    Sounds like you swapped the genders of the characters of, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.” Not a bad idea, and actually kind of cute.

    1. I read the book of “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” and just loved the ending.

      The Captain insisted that Mrs. Muir (an old woman by this point) apologize to her servant (IIRC also an old woman).

      She grumbled and did so.

      She fell asleep and woke up standing at the bedside of this old woman with the Captain standing beside her.

      Mrs. Muir had died and the Captain was going to take her on a journey. 😀

  20. I almost feel like doing a day a week with “Discoveries from Sarah’s packed boxes” only you guys would expect me to finish them, even the very bad ones, for the LULZ.

    Judo idea:

    N-day post topic is “here’s something weird from my office, YOU GUYS finish it.”

    Either that, or you start the Idea of the Week club.

  21. Having all your possessions burn in a house fire is an effective way to simplify the process of moving. Not recommended, but effective.

    And ditto on the sorting/disposal of stuff after grandparents’ demise. Living on the old family farm (established ca. 188X) and lived through the depression. *Never* threw anything out ‘cuz you never knew when it might come in handy.

    1. MomRed came unglued when she found a box labeled “The remains of [redacted redacted]” in Grandpa’s garage after he died. She called Aunt D. Aunt D raced over and opened the box. She knew they couldn’t be those ashes, because she’d been with Grandpa when they scattered Great Uncle [redacted’s] ashes at Lake Buchanan! Well, the box was empty.

      Grandpa had been loathe to part with such a good, sturdy box, so he’d carefully kept it, just in case. MomRed, “If your grandfather hadn’t already been dead, I’d have killed him right then and there.”

      At least now I know where my box-ranching habit comes from. (Don’t look under my bed. There are a lot of really good cardboard boxes, collapsed and stacked, because they are great boxes and you never know when you’ll need one . . .)

    2. lived through the depression

      Both my grandparents too. Depression & WWII. Nobody threw away anything, ever. In-laws too. On top of that, in-laws if something was such that they should maybe have a backup of it, say a cat’s harness, they needed a backup for a backup. We found 4 leash/harness for their one cat! Not different types, where “gee this one might work better”. Nope. All the same type and color. Granted they might have started as a pair for the house, and a pair for the RV, but the cat was harnessed to be transferred back & forth for trips …

      Grandma’s treadle non-electric sewing machine makes sense Now as an antique. But at one point it didn’t. Mom has it now. It will pass on to little sister then to one of her children eventually. OTOH the wash board and her (few) cast iron dutch ovens disappeared.

      We’re of the belief that if we need something we can go get it … after this year I wonder how many will keep believing that? It hasn’t gotten that bad yet …

  22. I’m in the process of figuring out how to take all the stuff that I need to get rid of to Half Price Books. And, it’s a HUGE selection of stuff. I had to do a purge after I lost my apartment and now I need to do it again so I can move into a smaller storage unit (5’x15′ over 10’x’10’) and cut down my overall expenses (hey, $70 is no joke). What am I getting rid of?


    *Games that I will never play again (which really annoys me, because I liked the Iron Kingdoms RPG-they are now going for a D&D 5th Edition sourcebook…ugh. And all of my Pathfinder and Starfinder stuff, because Pazio Games is going on the SJZ purity spiral.)
    *Books that I won’t read again/got for a reason (I think I’ve gotten rid of all of my David Gerrod that isn’t on my iPad.)
    *MOST of my comic books (there’s a lot of series that will never be finished, one way or another.)
    *Not as many DVDs as I thought (I still like quite a bit of them and might even do the whole rip-and-store on a media server thing one day.)
    *And, of course, stuff from the last few rounds of housecleaning (getting rid of stuff the Parents don’t want…not a lot, but quite a bit.)

    And, as you dig through stuff, you find things that you forgot you had. Notes for stories and games you just cringe at. Things you wonder why you even kept them. And, of course, records more than ten years old (Mom is “save it, just in case!”-but won’t give me space to store them…).

    But…you also find some things that you just remember and recall and are happy to find again.

    It’s a process of exploration, no doubt about it.

    1. Slow culling: I keep a box by the door. And I put things in it as I had a spare minute here and there. Roughly once a week, I took the box to the donation center, as it’s not that far away from the gym. This way, if I regret something after a day or two, I take it back out – but if I put in things every day, I still have a full box (or two, or three. Or toward the end of a cull, only half) that goes out the door.

  23. Who know what narrative lurks in the minds of writers?

    The EDITOR knows!

    [cue evil laughter from Greebo]

    1. know = knows. Damn it, how am I supposed to cover up my mistakes without an edit function? I’m not Hillary Clinton, it’s not like I can just eliminate all the witnesses!

      1. The problem is that these posts can go out (pre-edit) to email-subscribers.

        So your mistakes can’t be hidden. 😈

        Slightly more serious, Baen’s Bar posts could at one time be edited by the posters and some jerks would post something insulting then edit/delete the posts.

        The problems was that people could get posts via email so the “insulting posts” would remain “out there” no matter what the poster did. 😉

        1. So what you’re saying is that we don’t need an “edit” function so much as a “Hillary Clinton” function…

          1. Just remember that your “enemies” would have that feature as well. 👿

        2. Baen’s Bar posts could at one time be edited by the posters and some jerks would post something insulting then edit/delete the posts.

          Wait, what? There are jerks on the internet? Whose crazy idea was that?

          1. What fresh Hell, WP? Why (how?) did you suddenly produce an open ticky box with that last comment after I’d successfully subscribed over an hour ago?


  24. Hah! You can’t fool ME! The writer lost her mind long ago.

    I suspect it of being an occupational hazard, but it seems to have spread throughout the nation at large, so perhaps it is a social disease.

    1. She’s an odd. Knowing how we are, I’m not convinced she was ever in full possession of her mind to begin with. 😛

  25. This looks an awful lot like a post….

    anyway, too bad you don’t know anyone that might be willing to pick up that mil sf project…

  26. My 97 year old grandma grew up during the Great Depression and has the associated “keep everything” behavior. On the other hand, Grandpa visited her in a dream and said she couldn’t die until she gets rid of all the stuff. Current family policy is to take whatever Grandma gives us even we promptly take it to the thrift store.

    1. she couldn’t die until she gets rid of all the stuff

      That sounds like a reason to keep all of the stuff. 😆

    2. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s something to that: some people cling fiercely to everything, including life. If she lets all the unfinished business be finished, and lets go all the things that she feared losing.. and lets go of the fear as well…

      Well, then, when she goes, she may go in peace.

  27. I’m looking at the three-drawer filing cabinet beside my desk, and thinking of the four-drawer filing cabinets in the front bedroom (three of them), and realizing that I really need to go through all my writing and make some kind of inventory of all the stuff I set aside, sometimes because I lost interest, but more frequently because I concluded there was no market for it.

    Most typical reason — it was heading into the Unpublishable Void, and didn’t look like it would come out the other side. So why bother putting further effort into it? Bundle up the existing narrative and all the notes, put it all in a folder, and stuff it in a drawer.

    Given what happened to my sales rank for “one hour science fiction and fantasy short reads” on “Phoenix in the Machine” with only four purchases and one kU read, it really looks like what used to be an Unpublishable Void is now an Underserved Market, and I really need to dig out all those old novelettes and novellas that I abandoned because Length Is Wrong. Only bad thing — sometimes I didn’t write down everything that was in my head about a story before I set it aside, and when I take the papers back out, I find references to stuff I’m pretty sure was established in my mind, but doesn’t appear to have been fully set forth in writing.

  28. Worse. We have stuff passed down from hubby’s parents that were boxed by their parents!!!! Stuff we’ll never, ever, use or display. Display because his grandfather made furniture, so a lot of it is that. Not to mention I don’t know how much hardware, screws, clamps, and miscellaneous stuff, accumulated. That is after making a purge when the local HS shop teacher put out a request for nuts, bolt, screws, etc.

    The furniture building stuff has to have some items that are worth Money. None of us is going to use it. There are collectors out there. I tried to get hubby to let the local woodworking shop supply owner to come look at it, but nooooo. It sits crated in the garage & shed.

    We haven’t moved since 88. We purged in ’86 after grandma A passed away. For as small as a house as she had she had fabric, and yarn, stashed everywhere! Minor purge in ’89, but took in more from in-laws when FIL passed away. Another major purge in ’06 after my maternal grandparents passed away. In all 3 cases we assisted with the clean out, but weren’t in charge. At home we’re in charge. Lately we’ve been purging excess camping gear, it goes directly to the troop. Technically we could purge most of it (some it makes sense to have in vehicle when traveling, especially winter travel). We are done backpacking. But that won’t happen.

    1. Do you have #8 and smaller slot head screws? Cut nails? Wooden moulding planes? I am a user, Not a collector, FWIW.

      1. Like I’d know … (rolling eyes & sarcasm JTBC). Pretty sure hubby & son don’t know either unless they go looking for something that might work. I know hubby purged a lot of not-sorted and “I know we’ll never use these” to the HS shop class. Beyond that he doesn’t know all what is there.

        I know the differences between a Philips, Flathead, star & hex (etc., only because innards of computers are more than familiar), screw drivers, does that count?

        If it didn’t deal with hunting or fishing, dad didn’t teach it. Totally not a gender thing.

        OTOH I know exactly where to donate everything, eventually.

  29. And what in heavens name possessed me to sketch cozy mysteries in which the male protagonist has the help of a very proper lady ghost from the revolutionary war era?

    Because it would be amazing and awesome.

    Speaking of, I am reading chapters of French polished to my leather girl as bedtime stories. I will need another Dyce by late fall, pretty please. 😄

    1. In other Canadian News:

      Alberta probe into foreign funding of anti-oil groups extended to October
      EDMONTON — Alberta’s public inquiry into whether foreign money is bankrolling anti-oil protests in Canada is going into overtime.

      Energy Minister Sonya Savage says the initial findings from the inquiry’s commissioner, Steve Allan, show more work is needed to complete the final report.

      So, Savage says the government is extending the deadline for the report to Oct. 30 from July 2.

      Also, an extra $1 million will be added to the existing $2.5-million budget.


      Late last year, the environmental law firm Ecojustice launched legal action, asking a court to strike down the inquiry, saying the process is politically motivated, prejudges conclusions and is outside provincial jurisdiction. …

      1. There are a lot of Righteous Causes I would love to see audited. Starting with the American Lung Association; they’re forever rabbiting on about how one critic or another is funded by Big Tobacco, let’s have a look at who funds THEM. I can’t help but recall that at least one prominent leader of the Anti-Saloon League was involved in some shady business dealings. The self-righteous neve seem to think that ordinary ethical considerations apply to THEM. We already know that the Southern Poverty Law Center has had major interplanetary problems. And isn’t Black Quisling Al “Crown Heights” Sharpton a tax dodger?

        1. ….I don’t want to pick on typos/autocorrect, but the intended interpretation of “interplanetary” here has defeated me.

          1. From what I’ve learned about the S P L C, their issues are big enough to cause trouble on more than one planet. Haven’t you heard about the fundraising to combat Red Supremacists on Mars?

  30. RE: “Stuff,” and “moving.”

    It pays to devote 1 day a quarter, or at least half of it, to “review, discard or replenish.” We do accumulate “stuff,” most of which was accumulated because it delivered value. Sometimes – not as often as our minds believe, however – that value declines sufficiently over time to call for discarding that particular “stuff.”

    It’s a brutal process, which is as it should be, because with some frequency Monday’s discard becomes Thursday’s “needed it again.”

    RE: Moving. It is not possible to change addresses without experiencing a full and complete disaster; it is baked into the process.

    I’ve found, however, something that helps: Pallets, large boxes, strapping material, a pallet jack and a hired forklift and driver.

    Instead of putting everything you own into 400 boxes of randomly varying size and shape and using coolie labor to tote them repeatedly, get some GMA (Grocery Manufacturers’ Association) pallets are 40″ X 48″, so boxes 16″WX16″LX18″H fit in layers of 6, and each box is 2.66 cubic feet and since it’s being moved by hydraulics and wheels, can be pretty darn heavy (load the boxes on the pallets, heavy stuff – obviously – in the bottom layer). The 6.5″ pallet and 4 layers of strapped-down boxes is 78.5″H (24 boxes totaling 64 cubic feet) so the loaded pallet goes under garage door openings (84″) and just through doorways at storage centers (80″H X 48″W). At the storage place, and on the truck, you’re dealing with 96″ or 120″ tall ceilings, so there’s room for a layer of individual light same-size boxes on top. A 1500 lb pallet is child’s play for wheels and hydraulics.

    Pro Tip: Combat load the moving truck – what goes on last is the stuff you’ll need first. Think – hard – about what those “needs” are (tip: it includes the tools needed for reassembly, and maybe a couple sheets of plywood and a saw, plus cooking/cleaning stuff and clothes).

    If renting a truck, get one with a hydraulic lift gate, or rent a forklift and driver. All your “stuff” in boxes on pallets, will go on the truck (or of at the other end) in 30 minutes. Those light individual boxes that went on top? Put 24 of them on one pallet and strap them down with a long-strap ratcheting motorcycle tie down so the forklift can move them without spilling any, then unstrap them and put them back on the top of each pallet in the truck. They’ll come off the truck the same way. An entire household of “stuff” (not including furniture) will – usually – fit in the boxes on 4 pallets. That’s 96 boxes, 256 cubic feet, plus the 5th layer of individual boxes on top, the light stuff, another 64 cubic feet. Packed tight, and boxes too heavy to lift, it moves easily and quickly with hydraulics and wheels.

    Furniture? I’ve learned that unless it’s an heirloom, a one-of-a-kind, something with severe emotional attachment, or what you need to eat off of or sleep on, if it’s garden variety common stuff more than several years old, especially the “kids grew up on it” stuff, donate/sell it and buy new at the other end. Mattresses will work fine on the floor (for a little while), sawhorses and plywood (cut to necessary size, see “tools” above) make a short term dining table, 4-6 of the 16X16X18 boxes and a cheap painting tarp make a 30-60 day coffee table.

    A friend who went through a lot of corporate moves solved the “immediate need” thing with a very sturdy carpenter-built 4 ft plywood cube on casters (think “steamer trunk” but with the front screwed in place). It contained 2 weeks of clothes, cooking’cleaning stuff, tools, usual hygiene items, etc. It was fork-liftable, went on the truck last and came off first. A couple times it got shipped across country (and once overseas) by company-paid air freight when the rest of their stuff was going to be a couple weeks behind. They also rented most of their furniture so one phone call to the rental outfit took care of it.

  31. Yes. Write up all the things. We will buy. For examples, see what Christopher Tolkien did with his dad’s unfinished notes and get your sons started early…

  32. Hey, do a post a week with the idea, sketch, or whatever from your notebook, and a challenge for someone (anyone!) to finish it up, and you will co-author the book, story, or whatever? Farm out the job…

  33. “who WAS I when I wrote this? I don’t even think that way. “

    I felt the same way when I realized that a lot of my “fun” writing (which means most of it, since every time I try to “get serious about writing” life/day job intrudes) involved writing stories about Fairy creatures, and most of my characters children and teenagers. I found it particularly funny since, I thought at the time, that those things represent so little of what I read… Then I realized that a read of Nuttall’s Mil SciFi had lead me (via the ever-dangerous “what else does this author write?”) to his Magic Boarding School stuff. Which I read, mostly on a lark, but keep reading whenever he releases something new.

    As for fairies, no idea on that one. Best guess is I’m the father of three girls so I have sat through a fair bit of (often terrible) fairy stuff (movies, TV, kids books, etc.) So, whatever… Practice writing is practice writing (plotting, dialog, character/world development), even if I don’t suspect anyone will want to read it.

    1. Practice writing is practice writing

      Well done writing is the same, whether for children, young adults, adults or even English Literature doctorates: two-dimensional characters and plot holes an Abrams can drive through are equally problematic for all of them (with the possible exception of the last group mentioned who, by all available evidence, wouldn’t know good writing if it smacked them in the face with a key lime pie.)

      1. Still working on the “Well done writing” (as evidenced by the stories in my blog that nobody reads LOL! It’s ok though, I enjoy writing them anyway.) Lately work has been intruding WAY too much into my writing time though.

        Funny but true. Since the COVID thing started, and my work let me work from home full time (we could only work from home one day a week before). I have worked more weekends trying to keep up with projects for work, than days that I’ve worn shoes. (note, I have foot issues, so this is a big deal for me. Shoes are a necessary evil as far as I’m concerned. Even shoes that “fit” me are painful to wear for long, but barefoot is always comfortable)

  34. The only old writing I wish I still had is a Star Trek fan-fic(ish) thing my best friend and I wrote in high school. We used people at school as the characters. We would just stop writing and hand it to the other one to keep going. It was awful, of course, but it would be a fun memento. After we filled the notebook, we started volume 2, which I still have. I have no idea what happened to volume 1 – or that best friend, for that matter.

    As for boxes:I have one. After 20 years, it’s still in the back of the coat closet. Every now and again I dig it out thinking “I should just toss whatever is in here.” I keep putting it back, so I guess it’s at least interesting. I’ve now forgotten what’s in it, again, so I suppose I should get it out, again. But, I’ll just look at it and say to myself “oh, that stuff” and stick it back in the closet – so why bother?

  35. like books on the evolution of sexual reproduction (not titillating. Highly detailed, chromosome talk.

    I’d be interested in reading that one.

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