Empty Progress

I know I'm aging, and not all that gracefully. It disturbs me that an increasing part of my life revolves around afflictions and even more that I sometimes find myself lapsing into "when I was growing up..." thinking and questioning change.

I don't like to think of myself as stuck in the past, but sometimes the reasoning behind progress leaves me scratching my head (and being thankful for the hair that remains there).

Just the other day my Internet provider, AT&T, sent me yet another e-mail discussing upgrades. I say "yet another" because this is the kind of thing I've received regularly over the years going all the way back to when Pacific Bell was my provider.

This latest notification, once again, as always, promises that I'll have to do nothing to continue receiving the quality service I've enjoyed in the past. That's a good thing because when it comes to doing nothing, I'm right up there at the top. It's one of the few areas that I can honestly say I excel at, so it's great to see that this update is one I can master.

This update, however, reminds me that many people use the Internet, or their ISP, much differently than I do. They're making some changes to their web e-mail client or server, a feature I have to admit I've never used. As long as I've had any ISP I've done all my e-mailing through a client that fetches the mail from their server and deletes it. What mail I've gotten has always been stored on my computer, and I see no reason to change any of that.

Most of my e-mail now is sent to my host, half-dozen, and they've screwed me up by no deleting messages they forward, but that's another story for another time. That service, by the way, is one I can enjoy again if I wish to upgrade my account and spend more money, something I'm loathe to do.

The other big change that AT&T is rolling out is a change to my homepage! As long as I've had them as my service provider, and Pac Bell before, I've had available to me the possibility of creating a home page. This goes all the way back to the Geocities days, and while I *did* have a Geocities page, I've never taken advantage of this generous offer.

When it comes to home pages, I guess I have to say this is it.

I've never met anyone who has some AT&T hosted page for their home page, but I guess there must be enough of them out there clamoring for new features that AT&T is answering their gripes. Maybe the new one lets you embed YouTube videos or something, and I'm sure the kids will be all over that.

There's more than enough real stuff to do. These upgrades that do absolutely nothing I'm interested in either remind me that I'm missing something or make me think I'm out of step with the current, hip world.

Still, I guess any effort on my ISP's part is some indication that they're not totally ignoring their market. But instead of home page advances, I'd rather have reduced costs or increased bandwidth.

NaNoWriMo 2009

I've signed up to join the NaNoWriMo effort again this year, mostly just to see what direction my writing will take this time around. Last time I got an unexpected and somewhat frightening insight into my creative process, but I'm not sure how concerned I should be.

I was lying in bed, it was late at night, and that's a traditional time for me to plan things that I will never actually get around to writing (such as blog entries or witty responses to something I read on some message board hours earlier). Last night I was thinking a little about my upcoming novel, and I realized I was recoiling from the very thought of constructing a plot.

It occurred to me, I almost always do that when faced with a story.

Instead of coming up with a story in my head and then putting it down on paper like most people, good writers, do, I limit my thinking to things about the characters, other people with whom she or he may engage, and tiny scenes that interest me. Oh, I come up with snippets of conversation, but those are quickly forgotten. Mostly what I do is imagine quirks that character might have, how I might show them off, and scenes where they would be exploited.

What I don't do, hardly ever, is develop the story. In fact, I conciously avoid doing that, and part of the reason may be that I want to be as surprised as I hope anyone reading the story will be about what happens. I guess I don't see my role as writer as telling the story so much as describing it as it unfolds.

I don't think is a good way to write at all, but it usually keeps me interested enough to finish. I find I'm not all that excited about transcribing events I know about, but I'm pretty much interested in seeing what happens next or how something plays out. I don't know how most people plan for NaNoWriMo, but from what I've read on the boards there, it seems there's lots of outlining (mental or otherwise) involved. I know I could never match the impressive results of those who write 10,000 words in one sitting (whom I guess know what they're gonna say), but that's because my way of writing is mentally and creatively draining. I just can't think for five to ten hours straight!