Saturday, April 29, 2006

The flames of hell

For those of you who have read the first draft of my novel, provisionally titled "The Fixer" (and if you want a copy of the first draft for "editorial commentary purposes", drop me EMAIL), you might remember the painting in John Farner's entryway. That painting is not real. However, a similar painting hangs in my mother's entryway, and it is similarly created with red and black and yellow oil paints swirled onto canvas in a way that evokes the flames of Hell, albeit more explicitly so (with a vaguely demonic figure seeming to creep out of the background if you look at it wrong). It seems that a relative, while in college, shared an apartment with a fellow college student who was an aspiring painter. Unfortunately, said painter spent his rent money on canvas and paints, rather than on housing (an old story, eh?). The end result was that this relative ended up with a painting rather than with the painter's half of the rent money, and it ended up wending its way to my mother's hallway since she ended up making up the other half of the rent money. It always seemed to me that it would be more appropriate in the hallway of someone who was more violently-inclined than my mother, who wields a cold stethoscope but otherwise is more into the healing than hurting business (semi-retired nurse, not retired at the time she acquired said painting).

So anyhow, now comes the question of what to do about the title of the novel. To tell you the truth, I was looking at The Fixer's site and at his list of novels that he'd written, and thinking to myself, "Gosh, I wonder if I could write a novel?". So I decided to open up an editor window. So I typed "xemacs" then stopped... xemacs wants a filename. And then I asked myself, "Hmm, filename do I use?" I had a posting by The Fixer open in my browser. So I used the word "fixer" as the filename. Then I looked at the blank editor window. "Hmm, what's the title of this thing?" I didn't have the slightest idea what it was about, so I just wrote "The Fixer" on the blank page.

Then I went away and figured out who my protagonist was and pushed her into the story, and away we went.

The point... well, the story sort of is relevant to the title, in that she fixes a problem for a company that is an amalgam of a couple of Silicon Valley companies (as far as I know Oracle never stole someone else's software and branded it as their own -- but I know at least two other *very* large companies that did), but sheesh. I need a real title, not the handle of some other author stolen off of his web site!

Or maybe sharing a title with a blogger, a couple of classics (Bernard Malamud's and Joe Sacco's) and with a very lame vampire story (ick!) is the fate of this story, given that the titles I can think of tend to revolve around those paintings, and frankly, titles with the word "fire" in them are even more hackneyed. Sigh.

BTW: Just finished importing it into OpenOffice 2.0, remapping OO's keys to look sorta Emacs-ish (thank gawd for customizability!), spell-checking, and doing some minor changes. That was several days worth of work. There are two major changes coming up, a scene with the CEO of Sybil Software, and a scene with the big Russian dude after she wraps up the stuff at the warehouse, and a lot of fixes here and there. There's some parts I'm not happy with, some parts I need to re-arrange, and I need to do more setup for the last line (which will puzzle anybody who hasn't been reading my blog for at least a year). However, all in all, having just read through the whole blessed thing again, I'm fairly satisfied. Given that I wrote the whole first draft in less than two months of weekends and evenings (but had absolutely zero life during those two months other than work and writing, I guess that's how it has to be if you want to get things done) and it's my first attempt ever at writing a novel, it hangs together a helluva lot better than it has a right to, and leaves plenty of room for prequels and sequels if I ever want to come back to this character again.

Anyhow, enough for this Saturday. I'll see you tomorrow on Happy Mission Accomplished Day!

- Badtux the Fiction-writing Penguin


  1. Hey BT, I been trying to email you but your server keeps rejecting me. Could ya send me an email and I'll see if I can reply to it?

  2. Call it "Debugger", since she kills bugs for people.



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