May 31st, 2010


Geek Addictions and Delayed Responsibilities

I'm happy, but one step further away from finishing my new version of Sita Roryn. If I weren't so lazy, so flaky, or such a geek, I 'd have more integrity. Sue me; y'all aren't waiting for the novel with baited breath anyway. My latest excuse for not working is that I just got Mathematica again after several years of withdrawals. Math is my first love, all other science a close second, and writing only a recent infatuation. With Mathematica I get the premier geek's tool for doing math, a real pencil-neck's wet dream. Perhaps I'll throw up some neato stuff here from it eventually, but for now I'm just reacquainting myself with the language. Ever since I started learning computer languages, I had three projects I'd start with to get myself familiar, starting with Basic on a TRS-80 at my aunt's house. First, I'd set up Conway's Game of Life, about the simplest dynamic visual program you can do that will surprise you with its hidden complexity. Next, I'd generate Mandelbrot fractals, a good test of a computer's speed. Finally, and more recently, I'd try to simulate a ripple tank, the standard laboratory wave testing equipment. I originally had Mathematica from versions 2.0 to 5.0, but lost it when the price went through the roof and I was no longer able to get the student version. Now, however, there is a home version, so I'm back in the saddle. In between, I had a lot of fun with Java and will still work with both in tandem, but Mathematica is just so frakking convenient I feel like I've found a lost soulmate. But to the writing...

Sita Roryn is on the back burner, but not for long. I hope to get to a regular schedule with it again before July. Aside from that, I've already decided on what I'll be writing next. From what I learned last summer writing the original Sita Roryn project and my earlier Bluebonnet Circle, I'm pretty sure that my first serious adult novel should be set in this world and about situations I'm familiar with. Bluebonnet Circle was that, but was too much built from stereotypes. Although I doubt that I can free myself from that completely, I won't be starting my next project that way. It sounds stereotypical, I know, but I'm expecting it to be rather racy for a YA novel and not as pat a plotline for a traditional love story. It will be about a group of gamers in the early `80s (for video arcade reasons, I'm thinking 1982) who spend their summers playing D&D, Risk, and the like in a defunct bomb shelter in this neighborhood. As I did with Bluebonnet Circle, I'll be working with places, people, and situations close to what I've experienced while fictionalizing them just enough to protect RL friends (and myself from copyright issues). The crux of it will be the introduction into the circle of a girl, as you can easily imagine. Drama ensues, jealousy and changing loyalties threaten friendships, and the protagonist gets the girl after a deeply frustrating series of fuck-ups. As I said, it sounds stereotypical, not to mention openly pandering to nerdy members of my generation, but I really think I've grown enough to pull it off.

Here's the basic story of what I'll for now call The Dragons of Cowtown: our hero, Tim, is just getting out of high school for the summer break and is looking forward to his traditional three month long gamut of gaming with his friends when he finds himself suddenly attracted to Sarah, a quiet girl who is one class above him and lives across the little creek valley of Foster Park in his neighborhood. Since school is out, he tries to find ways to meet up with her, but all fail until the group is in a two week hiatus because Robert, Tim's best friend and another integral 'corner' of the group, is on vacation with his family. Tim sees Sarah in the big mall across town and finally has the guts to talk to her, awkwardly setting up a date for riding bikes in the park. For the two weeks, they get to know each other, but she has a boyfriend from school, so he's stuck out as a buddy (although they both can tell that the relationship is an odd one - a connection between disparate social worlds). By the time Robert comes back, Tim gets Sarah interested in trying a game with his friends. She and her boyfriend abruptly break up, and on meeting Robert goes for him 'on the rebound'. Obviously, Tim is doubly disappointed and quite angry at her, Robert, and especially at himself. He gets some advice from his step-father to hang on and remain Sarah's friend, however, as this might prove the deciding factor in the end (only Robert a Sarah among the group think that they're in True Love Forever). Robert and Sarah soon break up, but she stays around the group, having grown to like all of them (nerds are actually sensitive souls and such are quite girl-friendly don't you know?). She's a fifth wheel, though, and friction sets the friends to squabbling through July and the hotter part of the summer. I'm not sure what all I'll have them getting up to at this point; I've basically given up on meticulously plotting out stories ahead of time. Suffice it to say that Sarah and Tim will walk the tightrope, keeping each other at arm's length emotionally - believing that their chance has passed - yet coming to see each other in all the good and bad ways that people do when getting closer. When August nears September, and school again looms on the horizon as a kind of anticipated natural end for everyone's freedom, Sarah begins to go back to her other (older) friends, but Tim's gaming group realizes that she has become as integral to them as any other member. When it appears that she wants to stop talking to them altogether, and as the group despairs that their former cohesiveness is lost without her, Tim is recruited to persuade her to 'switch sides' for good. I see a miserable situation with her friends and the shock that she's found a new boyfriend, but a final understanding by her that she needs Tim and the group far more than her upperclassmen social circle. In discovering this, she also confronts Tim about his never making a pass at her, and they go the last step that hopefully has the reader pulling out his or her hair expecting all along.

Mixed in with all this will be such `80s goodness as coin-op video game rivalry, marathon sessions over dice-throwing RPGs; pop radio music played on Walkman knock-offs and 'ghetto blasters' and (thanks to Sarah) `70s music played via vinyl on an old Decca turntable; really bad TV heard mostly as background noise; world news mostly ignored but for it's growing influence upon post-apocalyptic books and movies; and, of course, the all-consuming juggernaut that was The Empire Strikes Back, due for its second re-release that fall. Also will be Tim's first sex after finding out that Sarah had not been a virgin since she was thirteen, tons of other breaks in traditional adolescent storytelling (I refuse to dumb down kids for political correctness), a much closer look at Fort Worth than I gave in Bluebonnet Circle, and more of the idea that a large part of a fifteen-year old boy's life was concerned with discovering all of the 'adult' things that adults tried to hide from him (along with the slow realization that the transition was really a one-way trip that he would forever after regret taking). I plan to tell it in the first person, which is a danger, but my autobiographical posts here seem to have met with a measure of appreciation, so why not try it? Regardless of all this talk, I still need to finish Sita Roryn first, so...back to the Mathematica. Gods, I'm an irresponsible idiot.
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