Weekend Recap: Words, Words, Words

1.  I am around 1700 words into my NaNoWriMo project.  I started with a blank page, put on some ambient drones to keep focused, and let my mind wander a bit until it found the story it wanted to tell.  The story is a bit of a surprise, actually, being that it’s decided it wants to be somewhat non-fictional.  For that reason alone, I’m pretty sure I’m never letting this thing see the light of day unless I change all the names and fudge some of the historical record, but I have to admit that it does feel good to talk about some of this stuff.  I’m not sure I’m going to get 50,000 words out of it – and honestly, most of the words I have written aren’t particularly good – but that’s neither here nor there at this point.  The primary reason that I’m doing this at all is to get in the habit of writing every day, without fear of an audience’s reaction, and I’ll worry about the end result when it’s finished.  To that end, I’m probably not going to write about my progress here, beyond word counts, which is just a way of keeping myself honest.  (And is there anything more insufferable than hearing someone talk about working on their novel?)

2.  I finished the Southern Reach trilogy at around 3am this morning, due to some Daylight Savings-related insomnia, plus a headcold.  I’m not sure that I enjoyed the latter two books as much as I did the first one; one gets the feeling that the first book came all at once, and then the next two were meant to fill in the backstory and to answer some of the first book’s many questions.  Still, they’re all quick, fun reads.  Now I’m re-reading The Stand, which is starting off very strong (and which I apparently remembered in more vivid detail than I’d thought).  Even though I don’t have any Ebola panic, it’s not hard to get sucked into the idea of an apocalyptic plague these days.

3.  I did it, I pulled the trigger; I bought an Xbox One.  And it might even be arriving today!  I was able to get the Sunset Overdrive bundle at the reduced price after all, which was a bit of a relief, and so now I hope my long-lost 360 friends can forgive my prolonged absence.

4.  I don’t know how I feel about Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare getting such positive reviews.  The last CoD game I played was (I think) Black Ops, of which the campaign remains unfinished and the multiplayer remains untouched.  That said, if my XBO friends are playing it, I might give it a quick look after all.

Taking the plunge

1.  So I just received the confirmation email that says I’ve officially signed up for NaNoWriMo, which is something I’ve been thinking about doing for years.  I don’t have any particular idea in mind, and November is also the busiest time of year in terms of AAA videogames, so who knows how this is going to work out, but that’s not even the point – if I can’t carve out an hour of writing time every day, then I have no business calling myself a writer.

I had an idea for a novel a few years ago, and I took a writing class to help develop and flesh it out, but I couldn’t quite figure out what I wanted to do with it, and it ended up withering on the vine.  I’m not sure I want to attempt to resurrect it for NaNo, either; I know myself all too well, and if I got frustrated with reviving it, I’d give up entirely.  I’m also staying away from Scrivener, even though I’m dying to use it; Scrivener seems to be a useful tool when you already have a plot and characters and scenes in mind, and it’s also useful if you already know how to use it without having to hunt and peck.  And I haven’t turned my Macbook on since I updated to Yosemite, so I have no idea if Scrivener is even working at the moment.  In any event, I’m determined to not let technical difficulties get in the way, so I’m keeping it simple and sticking to GoogleDocs on my home/work PCs.

I suppose there’s a part of me that’s annoyed that it takes something like NaNo for me to get off my ass, but there’s another part of me that’s well aware that this is why NaNo exists in the first place, and so I’m going to try not to beat myself up about it too much.

2.  I am now into the third and final book of the Southern Reach Trilogy, which I am enjoying quite a bit; it’s a very quick read, and makes for an entertaining come-down after the lofty heights of The Bone Clocks.  The second book (“Authority”) wasn’t quite as well-written or as absorbing as the first (“Annihilation”), but the third (“Acceptance”) is immediately gripping and seems to be on much firmer ground, which bodes well.

After I finish this one, I’m not quite sure what I’ll read next.  I still have a hefty backlog to get caught up on, for one thing, and I’m also considering giving the uncut version of The Stand a re-read after polling my Facebook friends on their preferred Stephen King novel – specifically asking between The Stand and It.  “It” was always my favorite, whereas “The Stand” never quite hooked me; I’m willing to give it another shot, though.

Hell, I might as well open up the floor here:

3.  I recently received a preview code for The Talos Principle, a first-person puzzle game from Croteam.  I’m about 2 hours into it so far; I’m enjoying it, despite some odd tonal dissonance and puzzle repetitiveness.  I’m not quite sure what I’m allowed to say about it – I don’t often receive preview codes – but I will say that it’s certainly a refreshing change of pace after the suffocating tension of Alien Isolation.

4.  I’m having trouble finding the Sunset Overdrive Xbox One bundle at the discounted price, but Amazon has already started accepting pre-orders at the new price for their Assassin’s Creed Unity bundle (which also includes ACIV at no extra charge).  I’ve already ordered the digital version of ACU for the PS4, but given that Ubisoft’s already made it very clear that they’re aiming for graphical parity between PS4 and XBO, I can’t help but wonder if I should cancel the PS4 pre-order and get this bundle instead.

5.  I’m not much of a drinker these days, but I’ve developed a fondness for spiced rum, which is quite nice for sipping during a cool autumn evening.  I’m not sure why I felt compelled to bring that up, but it’s too late now.

Weekend Recap: foliage

1.  We were away for a wedding this weekend, and so there isn’t much going on in the way of SFTC-relevant posting.  But I must reiterate how wonderful it is to be away from the internet these days.  No hashtags, no doxxing, no bullshit; just a few beautiful autumn days with good friends, free of day job worries and parental responsibilities.

2.  I’ve been down on the Xbox One a lot on this blog, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want one; even though I’m really happy with my PS4, I’m still an Xbox fanboy at heart, and I’ve been hoping for something to push me over the edge (and being able to import all of my Pinball FX2 tables from the 360, while much appreciated, wasn’t quite enough.)  As it happens, Microsoft’s finally delivered the one-two punch I needed:  both Sunset Overdrive and Forza Horizon 2 have been getting good-to-great reviews, and now Microsoft has announced a temporary $50 price cut starting this weekend.  Would it surprise you to learn, then, that all of my dreams last night were about buying an Xbox One?

3.  So last week I said I’d been debating putting Alien Isolation down, and last night I finally made the decision to pull the plug.  I think I’m about halfway through it; I’m currently in the level where I’m trying to access the APOLLO core, and I had to turn in all my weaponry, and all the Working Joes are immune to EMP mines.  The “turn in all your weapons” trope felt a little contrived, frankly, and progressing through the level was becoming more frustrating than anything else, and I don’t particularly care about the game’s fiction to keep butting my head against the wall.  I’ve kept my save file just in case I get the itch to finish it down the road, but I sent the disc back to GameFly and, for the moment, I’m considering myself done with it.

4.  This means that, barring a spontaneous Xbox One purchase this weekend, I’ve got a little bit of time to try and get back into Shadow of Mordor before this year’s final 3 AAA GOTY contenders arrive in November (i.e., Assassin’s Creed Unity (or “AssUnit”), Far Cry 4, and Dragon Age Inquisition).  It’s been so long since I last tried playing it that I might as well start over from scratch – I don’t think I was that far into it, and hopefully I’ll now have an easier time figure out what the hell I’m supposed to do.

5.  I didn’t quite know what to read after getting turned upside down by The Bone Clocks last week; I’d started reading John Le Carre’s A Perfect Spy but that’s not exactly a palate cleanser.  So, instead, I started Annihilation, the first book in the “Southern Reach trilogy” by Jeff VanderMeer.  And that was, in fact, the correct choice.  Each book in the trilogy is incredibly short (at least when compared to everything else I’ve been reading lately); I think it only took me 2 days to finish that first book (and I had a busy weekend).  I’m now 3 chapters into the 2nd book, Authority, and I’m hooked.