Tech and five year olds

Someone asked what the biggest surprise about living with five year olds is. For me it’s been their uptake of devices.

Technology is something that was invented when you were past adolescence, I saw that written somewhere. My kids, because I design eBooks, have had iPads lying around (or use our iPhones) since they were babies. It isn’t technology to them.

It’s natural, and I expected to see them use and fumble around with user interfaces with the apps we’ve curated for them.

What blew me away was when we let them play with Siri on the iPhone. For a while, they would just try and ‘talk’ normally with Siri, and then laugh hilariously at the response, as Siri wouldn’t ‘get it.’

But then they began to hone in on the idea that Siri could present them things they wanted. And within a few days, I realized that was going to be something interesting. Because they shortly proceeded to ask Siri “Siri: show me Paw Patrol (a show they like) videos online.”

Now, where they picked up the concept of ‘online’ I’m not sure. But they did. Or at least that adding that word (possibly because Siri said ‘I don’t know what that is, but there’s a list of things online’ at some point). But they know that asking for #thingtheywant and #online results in a search, which often has what they want. (This spills over into other things. ‘Daddy, can you show me a video of how the solar system got made’ is one I get asked frequently.)

So within minutes, they were watching youtube clips of their favorite show.

I wasn’t sure about Siri technology making the leap to mainstream, but the fact that my kids have figured it out means that I think this is here to stay. They’ll expect it.

Just like I expected TVs to get touchscreen. Not because it makes sense. All the reasons for TVs not to get touch technology makes sense.

It’s going to happen because when my kids hit the age they can make purchase decisions, they expect it. I know this because my TV is covered in finger swipe marks from where they will walk up to it absently when they can’t find the remote, and tap it. Then realize that ‘oh, the TV is dumb’ and walk back and look for the remote.

Fascinating.

I was recently talking to a grandmother in town who told me about her kids proudly not letting kids access any sort of technology. Frankly, as a digital native, I’m more interesting in staying a step ahead of mine and teaching them responsible use.

The reason I say that is that I didn’t have cable or TV until college. As a result, I’m horrible about monitoring my use of it. I inhale it like an addict when I have it (one reason I don’t have cable anymore), but my wife, who grew up with TV, can just sit in a room with it on and do other things. It might be that we’re different personalities, but I suspect it might have a lot to do with the fact that she learned to do homework or other activities with people (family) while the TV was on. I struggle with that.

Not coincidentally, a lot of people I know who have grown up with the internet often struggle to figure out how to pair productivity with online accessibility (witness the success of apps like Freedom, that turn off the internet).

So I’m hoping my kids will be able to handle connectivity as digital natives, and not be like me.

I find it fascinating to see when they want to have stuff on the TV, versus when they want to curl up with an iPad together for a show. Or when they want books. Or when they want the book on the iPad. Or read to. And that they will often turn off the devices to go jump into a box to make a fort.

So far they seem to self-regulate better than most adults I know, though I’m sure as parents we’ll keep an eye on it.

But what’s fascinating about the Siri online search anecdote (something we monitor very closely), is the fact that I read a novel once where the characters, at any age, had access to a phone-booth sized terminal into a central computer that was basically wikipedia. And anyone at any age could ask the computer anything, and it would tell you. And the sf-nal extrapolation was: this changes everything.

So my kids basically have that in a handheld device, unless I lock everything down tight. And even if I do, the moment they hit an age where they can access someone else’s device, same deal. So it’s going to happen. They’re going to grow up in that information rich world.

A totally science fictional world from my childhood’s perspective.

And that is the wildest thing about having five year olds, to me.

My kids turn 5 today

Five years ago. Doesn’t seem all that long. But I’ve ended up with two five year old kids running around the house.

How did that happen?

Twins

Their current hobbies include re-enacting memorized lines from Frozen, bedazzling open surfaces of the house with stickers (where do all these stickers come from? I don’t remember buying them, they just seem to… happen), and heckling me in my office when they get home (“did you finish the book today, daddy?” “No, I’m a quarter of the way through.” “Well, you should finish it soon.” “I know.” I once explained to them that I get paid if I write a book, so they sometimes add in “You know, you’ll get more monies if you finish the book.” Me: “Trust me, I know.”).

They’re wildly creative, funny as all hell, opinionated, and too smart by half. I hope they take over the world.

A strange relationship with text

I read weird.

I’m not sure when I realized I had a different experience with text than others. You internalize your own way of interacting with the world so much that you’re often not aware of the water you’re swimming in as a fish. And due to some unique experiences in my childhood, I certainly wasn’t aware how different my relationship with text was.

I do remember hints.

In first, or second grade, I think I remember looking around as we were asked to read parts of a text book out loud for the teacher. For many students, it was an embarrassing and painful experience. I don’t know how they modeled reading, or where they were in ability, but for me it was the first moment where I suddenly felt I was living in a completely different reality.

Some students read perfectly normally, at a slow but expected pace. I squirmed when listening to others who stumbled, halted, struggled to read the word out loud. Not so much out of judgement (though our memories are often tinged to make us the heroes, so maybe I did), but mainly I remember out of a desire for them to hurry it up because I could anticipate words or had already read the text in the book quickly and didn’t understand why we had to sit around and listen to someone else slowly deliver the same information. The more it happened, though, the more I started to suspect that people around me weren’t orating, but actually deciphering the words as they were speaking.

Which to me was alien. So alien that I still doubted what I saw. Was it physically possible to read that slowly? Maybe, I struggled with Shakespeare, some of which my mother had in our small library on the boat, and I could only grasp when I looked at each word.

And trying to verbalize all that? You sound so arrogant and like such a dick. Or at least I often did. I learned quickly to never, ever, talk about this. In those grades. Being bookish and socially awkward was already a bit strike against me. Talking about how slow a reader was? I quickly learned I was the odd one out and to shut the fuck up about it.

But, I didn’t read letters. Sometimes not even words. No. Letters are dangerous. They still are. Letters were slippery little fuckers with variable states of possibilities. Because the idiot who invented the alphabet, that little shit, made some letters look pretty damn similar to others. b,d,p. Round bits with a stick.

Somehow, between my learning to read and my hunger to read, it never occurred to me to ask or complain about this. The way letters could often flip on me. I assumed every one else had the problem as well, and they got on with reading big books just fine. My mother told me ‘a book is like a movie in your head as you read’ and my response was ‘we don’t have movies on the boat, that’s awesome; let’s do that! Let’s read all the things!’

I developed some quick, unconscious coping mechanisms to get around the slippery letter issue. One: assume all possibilities at the same time and allow context to inform. Two: read quickly and do not dwell on letter shapes, but on series of words and word structures. That word might mean duck, puck, buck. You don’t know until you add the next word or so. Okay, it’s a duck or buck hunt (probably not puck). Look, something quacked, okay, duck. You’ve held that word in the back and now you can allow it to resolve.

Luckily, no one ever stopped to tell me that you’re supposed to read at certain levels or paces as a kid. I moved quickly up through readers and into books, at what I realize now was a young age. And I read fast. And the faster I read, the less I needed to worry about the letters and words.

And so, after a time, I began to encounter the realization that people reading out loud were often also reading at their ability speed.

I truly realized this when my stepdad handed me an Arthur C. Clarke book to read. I did so, enjoyed it, gave it back to him and told him it was pretty good. He was a bit taken aback. I don’t know how fast I read it, but he didn’t believe I had, so quizzed me (this actually happened to me a lot when I was lent books by adults). I sat down and recounted the book in… excruciating enough detail he had me stop.

“Read this out loud,” he said, handing me an open chapter. “At the speed that you read.”

Me: stares blankly. “But… you can’t do that. You can’t read out loud at the speed you read. It can’t work.”

Him: “Try.”

I did. I sounded like the micro-machine man, and even then, it didn’t actually approximate the way in which I scanned clumps of words at a time.

Sometime after we spoke about this, I took an after-class session on study skills. One of them was to teach speed reading. I read the included half page article in a three second glance, took the provided quiz, got all the answers. There was a place to calculate how fast you read and put it on a chart so you could improve. There was nowhere on the chart for me. I was sometimes a bit smug about that, later, but it never particularly was smart to advertise…

Now we know why I fell into this. I fell into this because I have a mild bit of dyslexia and I’m ADHD. Because I wanted movies in my head, and because ADHD can allow laser focus, I find it possible to read a book in a single night (just keep going faster and faster and fall right into it all). Because the words are hard, I just decided to skip the word and not worry too much about it. I stumbled into a weird method of reading that allowed me to compensate for what are normally reading handicaps.

I’m damn lucky. It was dumb, dumb luck. I learned to read in a very unstructured environment, where no one told me not to do all this. My rushed reading never bothered my initial teachers (I would try to blister through reading out loud, wherever I was first taught, I vaguely remember). My mom taught me that many people read quietly, so I quickly moved to that method. And that let me focus on word pairs. And scanning. I often lose my place, and read paragraphs out of order on the page if I slow down.

I never thought I had a touch of dyslexia, because dyslexics struggled to read, right? And I read like a motherfucker, so I couldn’t be dyslexic. There was some fear of being labeled that in my extended family. Bad experiences, I guess. But that stuff runs around the genes. It’s gotten easier and easier over time. I don’t know if I’m training my brain enough, or have worked with the words enough for so long, that it’s gotten better. But it has. I don’t know what that means. And now that I don’t read two fiction books a day, like I used to, the speed has slowed way, way down… by my standards. A good book is usually consumable in four hours.

It is mostly still hard when I do numbers. I balance the checkbooks, which means I use excel to create ledgers. And when I sync them up by hand, they’re always wrong. It always takes a few passes, and the culprit is always a damned 6 or 9 transposed that I read wrong. Or, thanks to the fonts used these days, a 2 or 8. It’d be nice to not have to go through that every single time, but blowing up the font on the web browser, or on excel, helps. Thank goodness for computers.

I find captchas to be hellish puzzles that are just plain unfair.

I’ve talked to others who struggle with dyslexia far more than I do. I don’t have a simple solution, that’s not what this post is (though that font for dyslexics is pretty cool, and seems to help some. Again, thank goodness for computers), I just have the one I lucked into for myself. I’ve taught a few dyslexics (or people who’ve been tagged dyslexic) speed reading, and it’s helped some of them (but not all), as I think some of the pressure, fear, anxiety that fuels trying to identify each letter or word gives more road bumps. Learning to be free to not have to process each word gives you a certain freedom to fly and look at the paragraphs.

I can’t complain. When I talk about the oddities or struggles that came with either ADHD or this, it’s with a certain amusement. That I got out completely unnoticed until adulthood due to coping mechanisms (actually, reading with ADHD is the easier problem. The bigger one is organization and memory, which I never got to cope with well, which, looking back, explained a lot of everyone’s frustrations with me all the way to adulthood and my getting a PDA and then smartphone). With pride that I got an education when coming from the background I come from. And now that more people’s reading habits are being warped by online scanning, a chuckle. I’m already well warped beyond that.

My biggest struggle comes with talking openly about how I explore text. Because it’s ‘not the right way.’ I knew that young. I kept it close. People knew I read quickly. But nothing breeds resentment more than making something look easy. In college I flipped open a book for class on a computer and set it to scroll past so I could read it in the 30 minutes before class while I ate noodles in a computer lab. In class, as I began to argue about the themes in the book I had just read, another student, outraged, said that I had only just speed-read the book, and was unqualified to have an opinion. I’d been ‘busted.’ Because I couldn’t possibly have experience the text? Or because it looked too easy?

Easy was years of banked experience, thousands of read books, and unconscious development of a system. But there it was, I was doing it wrong. (I was a lazy student, though, because of this ability. I’d read a whole textbook the night before a final. Because, why not?).

Harder as a writer, too, to talk about this. I talked about the fact that, if I liked a book, I’d go back and re-read it. When I found out about ‘rasterizing’ of pictures I began to describe that as my reading process. If I liked a book I’d read in an hour or two, I’d keep coming back to it. My favorite novel, I read over forty times until I could feel it burn in and stick.

But try telling lovers of the word and well turned phrases that you read like flying over an ocean. Try explaining rasterizing. Try talking about the fact that phrases do repeat, just like words, and when in the trance articles are just part of the word and verbs as well. That text is agglutinative when you are absorbing it.

It was as an adult that I would be told more times than as a child that I was failing to do literature right. That I should take my time, to slow down, and savor what I was experiencing.

From professors to colleagues. So many people like that word. Savor. As I were a glutton, shoving food down my throat so fast I didn’t have a chance to properly taste it.

Metaphors are so damn important, whether we realize it or not. And for me, my metaphor was that I felt like a bird getting speed up so that I could skim over a landscape and have it revealed to me. Sometimes I’d have to come back to parts of it, and I would miss many details. But the world was there to come back to, never gone. A landscape to be explored. And to stop flying was to come back down to earth, and land in a gully somewhere where I’d be unable to see over this, or that, or was it this, or was it that. Shit.

Words were never food. They were always a mindscape.

I listen to audiobooks now. It’s the only way I can experience text on a word by word basis in a manner that’s not inherently frustrating. It’s been interesting, listening to novels I’ve already read this way. I’ve found some new tidbits. I’ve also found that some of my favorite novels are no longer my favorite via word by word. I’ve also been able to listen to some novels that I hated slogging through, because they feature enough unique turns of phrase my way of reading gets slowed down enough that I slip out of flight, hit the page, and find myself struggling to reread the same sentence five times. Those novels are hard to get into flight for, because you know in order to read them like that, you’re going to miss a lot. And you worry that sometimes maybe there’s an incompleteness there.

Have I come to view word by word as intrinsically better? No, just a different experience. I’m glad to have it, I know it strengthens my abilities to experience literature like this. New experiences are good.

I’m sure someone will have a field day about what this means for my writing. The biggest impact it has, though, is on my ability to give readings. I’m still trying to learn how to read well. Not because I get nervous about an audience, but because while speaking out loud I read the text in front of me automatically. All of it. Which means when reading to an audience I’m usually scanning a few paragraphs ahead, rescanning, tweaking it, and then losing my place as my words run out and I try to rescan to find my place, causing me to stumble. My reaction has been to find a few pieces that I’ve almost got memorized, so that it’s starting to become performative and reassuring. I have an app that helps as well.

Mainly I am writing this to say there’s no one true way to experience literature. If you read a lot, you’re winning. And that, to anyone with ADHD or dyslexia out there, keep trying. You may be surprised yet at what you unlock.

I used to be worried about people’s reactions to all this. To whether I was doing it right. And then one day I stopped caring and talking about it. And it hurt to get pushback, but it was even cooler to find people who took heart by finding out that I had dealt with this. Because so many people seem to suggest that writers, or professors, or people who deal with words, are perfect with them.

I struggle with doing it certain ways. And I fly doing it others. I know I got lucky. But I know that I wouldn’t trade the way this worked out for anything. I read and write books. It’s my life. And everything around me seemed to suggest that that wouldn’t be the case. But I’m glad I didn’t read ‘right.’ I truly am.

You find your own path. And it’s good.

Addendum: for the curious, there’s been a lot more research about this then when I was first diagnosed, and I no longer feel so alone/crazy in suggesting that it helped me. Here’s a study that got results out of formalizing this accidental process of mine, teaching dyslexic kids to speed read helped them more than it stuck with normal readers. If you google speed-reading and dyslexia, you can read points, counterpoints, research, etc. It’s probably true that dyslexia has many underlying contributions to an outward-facing result, and some methods (dyslexic font, speed-reading) might help, and some might not. As in many things in life, mileage varies.

Progress Report: What day? I don’t know.

I’ve lost track of how many days in today’s year have passed. But, I do know this is the 64th day of working on the novel PS-1 (I started it February 1st). After getting 17,000 words of outlining done, the go-ahead to write on 3/11, I’ve been working my way forward. 13,500 words that I like are now written. Despite coming back from a week-long sprint of writing in Phoenix, I had to take care of some stuff that was waiting. Slowed me down.

My spreadsheet tells me I’m still on track to hit my deadline, though. And I’ll get another burst of words later this month on another writing retreat. But I’ll start feeling better once I hit the halfway point, that’s for sure.

Next weekend I’m going to be in L.A. If you’ve been paying attention to the ‘Appearances’ tag, I’m going to be speaking to writers who have won a quarter of the Writers of the Future contest. This was one of the things that sparked my trying to become a writer, so it’ll be quite a nostalgia trip for me.

I’ve always said I started submitting short stories when I was 15. But when I looked back at the list of anthologies WOTF put out, I found the cover of the book that I first cut the entry details out of the back of when I made my first submission:

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This was volume 8, from back in 1992. Which meant I was actually 13 when I started submitting to the WOTF contest.

Damn, kid.

Seven years later, in 1999, I won a quarter with my story ‘In Orbite Mediavali’ which I’d written a first draft of while at Clarion earlier in the year. And I went to the 2000 awards ceremony. A 20 year old me hadn’t flown around much of the US, how could I not?

Yeah, this is me at 20 in a tux:

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Anyway, it’ll be fun to meet the new winners and I gather I’ll be on hand to chat with them about… writing stuff.

Side note: one of the stories in the 1992 WOTF anthology was Bringing Sissy Home, by Astrid Julian. The story stood out to me at the time. In 2000, right before winning a quarter, I joined a Cleveland writing workshop where one of my fellow workshoppers turned out to be… Astrid Julian.

This week I learned the importance of pacing and balance

I’ve been a bit absent on social media and at the blog. And it’s been due to the high amount of work I’ve been attempting of late. Getting the last details of this novel I’m about to write nailed down, freelance work, a large coding project, and more was occupying mental space and time. I’d lost weeks of work due to being drugged when I messed up my back, so I was also frustrated and trying to catch up. Add that to feeling very down about being housebound, and an ugly winter, and I’m just out… out of whatever it is I need.

Cal, one of my twin daughters, went in last week for routine surgery to remove a cyst. Still, even though small, she was fully put under for it. Scary for me as a parent to watch her get the mask and get wheeled out. She was a trooper, but the couple of nights leading up to the event I got very little sleep. Nervous dad.

Last Thursday, we were up before six in the morning to get her ready and to the hospital, then drop her sister off at daycare. Spent the morning in the hospital with her.

Everything went super.

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But between that and all the work, I was starting to get a bit wobbly. Saturday found me in a state of general malaise due to a head cold, that added to the exhaustion, and I found myself unable to control my pulse. As the rate kept remaining high none of my methods to control it worked, and I felt rest and balance, what I needed, were already out of my control.

I didn’t want my pulse to be racing because I had a flight on Sunday to catch. But late Saturday, I realized I couldn’t get my rates under 115bpm and I was really uncomfortable. I called it, and we packed the kids up at 2am and went into the ER. I felt horrible about doing it. Disrupting Emily’s sleep, scaring the kids a little. But I was unable to control it and scared.

After getting hooked up to the EKG machine and my blood tested, they also ran an additional cat scan. It was a low-key affair, I had a feeling it was mainly stress and exhaustion triggering the event. And by early morning, the doctor had run enough tests and monitored me to come to the same conclusion. Acute anxiety plus exhaustion and a head cold. I took a picture of me smiling for the camera that night as a selfie and a mark, just to look back at:

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I asked the doctor if I was safe to travel. He cleared me. The next day, late in the night and still dog-fucking-exhausted, but no longer with a racing pulse, I checked into a rental house me and some writer friends had gotten for a week of writing.

Over the next few days, I didn’t set an alarm clock, I enjoyed good company, ate clean, and sat in the sun and soaked up the rays and tried to shake this nasty headache and sinus pressure. I swam in the pool each day. I wrote as I felt like it, and still have blown away my usual daily average. I’ve taken naps at random.

I feel like a hundred pound vest that I didn’t even realize I was wearing has melted off.

And today I took another selfie, so I could compare my face with what I looked like on Sunday:

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The last time I was in the ER was in 2009. Since then I’ve slowly lost 35 or more pounds, (over 35 of fat, gained some muscle), gotten more active within the confines of what my heart defect allows, and gotten more hours I can work a day back. But I’ve loaded myself up, and I’ve worked hard this winter, and for the last year. I’ve just been go. I’ve gotten more accomplished the last 18 months than I ever accomplished at any point in my 20s.

But I do need to remember that not taking a moment to take care of me has consequences still. I’ve gotten way healthier, but I can still burn out. And my burn out has health consequences.

Each day I’m getting stronger and my reserves are refilling. Which is good, I have a novel ahead that needs done on a tight schedule. I will need to pay attention to myself and not throw myself into the wall too much while writing it.

There’s still a little bit of stress. I’ve paid of a ton of debt (why I’ve worked so hard this last 18 months) and am trying to secure a brighter future here. Getting a kid in for a minor surgery and myself in for a catscan and heart-related emergency visit will have some big repercussions on the pocket book. It’ll slow some of the speed I want to pay off debt with.

But I’m glad to be kicking still. And I’m grateful to be here in Phoenix, writing for a living, in the sun after a shit winter, and that I’m able to refill those reserves.

And I’ve learned I need to pay just a little bit more attention to how I’m doing. Something I knew I might be screwing up when I first set out on this mad dash of working as much as possible 18 months ago.

Progress report: taking deep lungfuls of air

I cut back on the blogging while I buried myself into working on the outline for PS-1 (my last update was on 2/6, wow).

The back pain is mostly gone from my spill on 1/22, though some activity still occasionally inflames it. One month, wow. I can sit, stand, work at the computer, and do my daily walk into town to run errands again. I’m still… gun-shy about any ice and take extra wide detours to avoid and get really nervous around it. It’s an oddly purely physiological response. The fall and three weeks of back pain are so seared into my body that the first walk into town I kept flinching whenever I saw ice. I’m not mentally freaked, but there’s just an autonomous, muscle memory there that my body has that’s similar to seeing a glowing red pot (don’t touch!). More walks are fixing that, but it was interesting to see that my lower, lizard brain has picked up that aversion on such a fundamental level.

So I’m about two weeks behind, but now that I’m back to normal, am enjoying catching up on work. Blogging took a hit, as it doesn’t put food directly on the table!

The outline for PS-1 is 17,000 words. For what will likely be a 55,000 word novel. The interested parties are reading the outline, and notes are being exchanged. I expect to start writing the first chapter Monday, March 3rd.

On twitter I talked a great deal about the craziness of a 17,000 word outline for a 55,000 word book. But, over time, I’ve come to outline more and more obsessively before writing. It has really helped me, and has made the writing process more and more enjoyable on a daily basis. I might have to storify that whole exchange and post it up here.

With my editor reading over PS-1, I now have the time to finish my last pre-PS-1 project. I owe one last short story to an anthology. I need to finish it by this weekend.

After that, I will be passing on any new short fiction projects until after all the work on PS-1, the books I owe Tor, and all other extant projects are turned in. I can’t handle the pressure of any new obligations when my plate is so full, sadly. It means things are good for me.

It sucks to say no. I had to turn down another project that looked really cool recently, so it’s on my mind. I spent most of my life working so hard to get to this point. And suddenly, people approach me and ask for stories. I’ve sold 55 of them, to date. And now I have to say no. And that’s an odd complication I didn’t expect about success (what bit of I have managed to carve out for myself).

Steve Jobs said success is as much about what you say ‘no’ to. And I found out that, although I’m extraordinarily proud of the 55 short story sales, I need to take care of the novels and extreme debt-paying project I’ve embarked on this last couple years. That will put me in much better stead to play with short fiction down the road.

I’ve added a signed copy of The Apocalypse Ocean to the Con or Bust auction

I’ve put a copy of the Limited Edition of The Apocalypse Ocean, signed, up at Con or Bust. There aren’t many copies of TAO left, I hoard the only box left and am no longer selling them individually, just keeping it around for things like charity auctions, surprise gifts, and maybe a few copies to auction far down the road for generally evil capitalist gains. But mostly for things like this.

About Con or Bust:

Con or Bust helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions (how to request assistance; upcoming cons). It is administered by Kate Nepveu under the umbrella of the Carl Brandon Society, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction. Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited by geography, type of con-goer, or con; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves.

About The Apocalypse Ocean:

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“This is one of the 200-copy limited edition print run created for the 2011 Kickstarter. It’s the 4th Xenowealth novel (comes after Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose). Once bidding is finished, I’ll mail it out anywhere in the world and sign it however you wish (within reason, right?)”

(Via Con or Bust | Signed Copy of The Apocalypse Ocean, Limited Edition Hardcover.)

Does anyone remember this open driving simulator? And can we have one again?

So I found myself writing this to an old high school friend of mine recently:

There was a driving simulator I adored that I’d love to see replicated. There were roads, and other traffic. No racing, you just drove a sedan around, and you could see other cars in your mirrors. If you went over the speed limit you’d get pulled over if you passed a cop and ‘lose.’ Cross into traffic, you’d usually hit another car and ‘lose.’ Drive off the edge of the road and ‘lose.’

I’d wander all over in it.

Now I use Grand Theft Auto the same way. Sometimes I rarely play missions, I just drive around the open world and look at stuff for a while and then go to bed.

At first I was like, ‘Damn, I’m getting old,’ and then I realized ‘no, I used to love doing this even back in the day.’

Half the time I play Forza I’m just looking at the mountains.

Anyone know of any mundane open world driving simulators like this?

update: Wow, some help from people and some poking around on the internet, and I found that a) I slightly misremember how ‘open’ the world of this game was and b) I found the game!

It was Test Drive II or III. I think it was III because I had the processor issue when I upgraded to a slightly faster machine all the cars sped up!

Picture and review:

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Wow, blast from the past.

further addendum: A number of people suggest Euro Trucker for an open ended driving simulator…

Progress report: day… not really sure

I spent today working on freelance ebook conversion and editing for the blog I work for. Wrenching my back put me into a week and a half tail spin. When I lose days, I tend to get into a real frustrated mind set. But I muddled through everything and managed to get the copy edits done for Hurricane Fever by Monday. Though I have to admit, I was a bit exhausted (and sacrificed some sleep to achieve this, and that puts me in a bad spiral of odd hours, and not getting sleep affects me very strongly). The back pain has left me not sleeping really well, too, unless I take a higher dose of pain medication, but then that leaves me chemically foggy when I wake up. It’s a weird see-saw. I’m mostly just very grumpy and frustrated by my inability to juggle two freelance careers and all the writing that needs done, and when I get into that mindset I tend to avoid personal blogging because, really, a lot of people would kill to have my problems. I recognize that. So bemoaning the fact that people are begging me to write things, for money no less, is hardly a way to endear myself to many.

And yet, my problems are indeed my problems and no less frustrating to me.

Thankfully, each day there is less and less back pain. I believe today was the first day I didn’t wake up and wince. I woke up and took a shower, and only when I stepped out and reached for the towel did I suddenly go ‘oh wait, I can’t twist like that, ow.’ In fact, I woke up refreshingly normal-feeling. And that’s no small thing.

Now that Hurricane Fever is turned in, I’m working on outlining PS-1. I’m doing this with pencil, and paper, and it’s hard to quantify. Scribbled notes and scraps of paper, which are part of my initial workflow.

I can tell I’m a bit stressed out and tired because I was developing that odd physical response I have to stress; a numb face and eye pressure (or twitch). It’s an odd thing in that I don’t feel panicked, I mentally know what is next on deck. I’m more productive than many I know. But I still hold myself to high standards, and when things feel like they’re falling apart (even if I know it’s only for a couple weeks) I still get ridiculously upset. As someone who blew off classes and never really cared about expectations or other people’s perceptions, it’s odd to me that I allow anything to get to me. But I adore my jobs, my life, and how I make a living now. And so I do care, strongly. And so deep down any delays, anything less than the standard I expect, becomes somehow insanely unacceptable.

I suspect, after the next 18 months, I should take two weeks off with the aim of specifically doing nothing. Pure indolence. Maybe longer, if I can swing it. I’ve never taken a vacation in as long as I can remember, I’ve always freelanced or wrote. I turned out to be a workaholic… much to my own amusement…

Once I have a solid outline that both the editor of my project and I like, I’ll probably calm right the fuck down. I always do. Fundamentally, I think I’m reacting to uncertainty and lack of new words, as I tend to feel most comfortable about having new words on the table…

What’s absolutely hilarious about all this self-imposed stress is that this has been an amazing week in terms of good news in terms of business stuff that I can’t announce.

Go figure!

Progress report: day 28

Today saw me adding 260 words to the short story System Reset as I edited it up according to editorial comments after I dropped the twins off. Sitting proved torturous, so I created a quick and dirty standing desk:

NewImage

I then turned to working on the copy edits for Hurricane Fever that are due. Talked to my editor about moving the acknowledgements to the back (my preference) and got the clearance for that (my favorite bad review of my first novel was a long rant about how the acks were at the front, and I was like 0_o. Because I always insist on the acks being in the back). The sooner the reader gets to reading the text the better, in my humble opinion.

I’m about 10% of the way through Hurricane Fever’s copy edits. Lots of work ahead, as I have to do this and get the outline cracking on PS-1. There’s a little goblin in the back of my head that is just shrieking ‘five days behind’ over and over again right now, and it’s hard to escape.

Right as I finished up the day’s work, the editor for the short story accepted it and sent a contract. A relief. No matter how far along in the process you get, there’s still always the question in the back of your head when something’s out for submission. Even after 55 or so acceptances.

I’m used to the wait, but the next one could always be the one I strike out at after all this time. It still happens.