Real life inspiration
A quick reminder to start off this morning. Nominations for the Hugo Award close Thursday. If you are interested in checking out the recommendations that came in to SP4 this year, check out Kate’s post. She not only lists the titles that received the most recommendations but she has a link to a Google doc with the complete breakdown of recommendations. Now on to the post.
Except I still don’t know what to write about. Part of it is I am suffering an extreme case of “why the heck am I out of bed?” Part of it is the Death Wish Coffee hasn’t been able to cut through the mental fog this morning. Part is residual mental exhaustion after spending the better part of two days going through the process of figuring out why my current WIP kept telling the file — and all the backup copies — was corrupted and couldn’t be repaired/opened.
Worse, it happened to a couple of different files. Something I discovered yesterday when I was doing a final check after I thought I had figured it out and fixed the problem. I still don’t know why it happened or how. Most files opened without problem. Others, recent documents started over the last two weeks, were about 50/50 impacted. When you have a paying gig impacted as well as an upcoming release, you (or at least I) tend to get a bit frantic when each copy of the latest version suddenly decides not to work.
But it is fixed — finally. All files open without problem and have been backed up multiple times and in multiple ways. After watching me pulling my hair out over the issue, Mom promised to never again wonder if I have lost my mind because of all the different forms of tech I own. There is a reason this household has PC and Mac, iOS and Android. Not only do I want to see how my e-books look in each format, not only do I want the ability to upload to iTunes without having to give money to a 3rd party, I believe in redundancy when it comes to tech. I’ve been burned too much over the years when something has died without warning and I’ve been unable to finish a project without having to run out and spend money I usually don’t have just then to get an immediate replacement.
Anyway, it saved me this time because after some hours of tweaking and cursing and banging my head against everything hard I could find, the impacted documents would open on my MacBook Air. Prior to that, I had tried opening them using Word, Atlantis, LibreOffice, OpenOffice and more. Nothing worked. But, as I said, I was finally able to open it on the Mac using Word. I then tried “save as” with a new file name. No go. That was corrupted as well. Even on the Mac. More head banging and cursing.
Long story short, I was finally able to save the documents in question as DOCX files. Those opened without problem across the different laptops and tablets. They opened in all pertinent word processing programs. They were then saved — many times and in many places. Next came, yet again, scans of not only the documents in question but all my machines for any sort of virus, malware, etc.
The end result is that I lost basically two days of work — hiss.
The one bright spot was seeing my son, even if only for a few minutes, as he switched flights on his way to his next duty station. I needed that — hey, I’m a proud Mom. What can I say? — and even though it was not long, it was enough to remind me what is important.
Let’s face it, life often throws us curve balls. But it also serves up a lot of fodder for our plots. Mom has the news on as I sit here typing this and in the last few minutes, several stories have come on that I can see becoming a book or story. The pilot who is appearing in court this morning, accused of running a string of brothels out of his Hummer. He allegedly had a dozen or so “brothel apartments” in the Houston area. This high flying pimp, alleged, could easily become a character in a mystery/suspense novel.
Then there’s the guy who managed to get a pellet gun — although, at the time, the Capital guards did not know if it was a “real” gun or not — into the Capital’s visitor center security area. He pulled it and got himself shot. One woman was injured by shrapnel. The alleged gunman was known to the Capital police. He had disrupted Congress earlier, claiming (iirc) that God had sent him. Again, it could be the opening of a mystery or even SF story.
If that’s not enough, how about the co-pilot of the commercial flight that was escorted off the plane yesterday or the day before who was charged with being over the legal limit for pilots? Can you imagine how those passengers felt when they learned one of the two pilots in charge of their lives had been drinking? Think about the action and suspense you could write if you put that into a story — especially if the pilot wasn’t removed from the plane and did take the stick during the flight for whatever reason. Or, putting a twist on it, say he is a former pilot who is on the jet, and who has been drinking, and who then has to take the stick because something happened to the crew. How would he react and would he think about the consequences? What about the passengers who knew he had been drinking?
One last example of how real life can inspire plots or at least inklings of plots. There’s a group called Nextdoor. You can sign up to get notices about what is happening in your “neighborhood”, etc. One of the emails that came across my server yesterday was a post from someone warning everyone that her neighbor’s house had been broken into that day Apparently the perps knew the victim’s schedule. Once she left the house, they made entry to her backyard and then broke in through her French doors. After grabbing a couple of laptops, money and prescription drugs, they walked out the front door. Comments in response to the post talked about seeing strangers in the neighborhood the week before, usually men wearing orange vests and carrying a clipboard but no one really seeing them doing anything but walking the neighborhood. Paranoia fairly dripped from some of the comments. Me, I simply made sure certain precautions were in place and then talked to Mom about it this morning to make sure she knew to not drop her guard.
Again, I can see so many different plots growing out of that simple scenario. Everything from a cozy mystery to police procedural to SF/F to Horror. So many different variations.
None of which helps me finish the current WIP edits (which should be done today) nor the paid job. But at least thinking about them and writing this blog has helped get the brain functioning this morning. So I guess I ought to find myself some breakfast and get to work.
I’ll leave you with this: Make sure your work is backed up — always. Do regular maintenance on your work machine, including virus scans and malware scans. Back up your work (yes, do it again). Look at what is happening around you or in the news and see if you can see plotlines you might be able to pull into your own work. Oh, and pray to the coffee gods that they soon give us the ability to mainline coffee. It would make mornings much easier to tolerate. VBEG.