Aaron Cael

Category: howsyourwritinglife

Flow and format

Been working on the actual nitty gritty of mixing images and text. While doing so in a blogging format has pretty cut and dry conventions, designing something that works on both a paper page and various flowing formats of eBook text brings up all sorts of issues of user experience.

Two page spreads are especially tempting/vexing. The constraints of the format have a great deal of power over the reader’s experience.

The Proper Role of Power Tools in Publishing


Not to hang too much of my ass out in public but last night I printed out they first chunk of my novel that anyone is going to actually see. While I’m about as plastic fantastic digital future as the next man–writing this with a gestural keyboard on my tablet as I am–there’s still something of as glow to actual print. a realness, a threshold crossed once its off my screen and on the surface of another object.

I wonder if I’d have the same experience flipping through it on a Kindle. (that’ll come later… after a few nights of headaches sorting through the documentation for Kindle formatting and epub3 and the like, I’m just printing these first rounds out and including stamped envelopes to mail them back with notes)
Proper saddle stitching will have you wait for proper materials though. I had more whisky in the house than thread or common sense so I used the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language as a workbench and power drilled holes down the spine, stitching it up with salvaged red waxed twine.



Not a whole lot of actual goddamn writing got done this weekend. More like digging around in what I had, getting reacquainted with some dirty corners of the narrative. Still, it’s work that needed to be done.

Googled up a solution to the Automator issue. Roughly: http://macs.about.com/od/usingyourmac/ss/Automate-Opening-Multiple-Applications-And-Folders_2.htm  Now to add that to the netbook so I can jump right into it.

Speaking of the Netbook, I’ve been taking it to work with me for the long commutes, especially the ferry. Fits about the same as a hardcover book so why not. Well, aside from needing to get through two hardcovers I’m trying to read right now. 1491 and American Gods.

Covered my desktop with paper so as to better write notes, inventories and to-dos. Looks the classier side of schizophrenic.

An idea that sprung upon me today: exploit the monkey-see/monkey-do wiring in the brain (mirroring neurons) by watching videos of behavior I want to emulate. Like sitting down at a desk and grinding it out. Rasterbated up a door sized image of Daniel Pinkwater at his typewriter. Not action packed enough, I think. Only found an active shot of Bukowski at his typewriter but a lifesize Bukowski in your room is a bit rough to look at every day, regardless of my admiration for his poems. Might be a cool idea for a project: taking portraits or videos of writers I admire at work, or even pretending to be.

Next up: assignments. Some sort of system for breaking down the tasks of filling out the first third of the novel and fleshing out some pieces that are sorta just assumed and left hanging. The Real Work of It.

Also: need more red wine. For motivation.

Also: get the website going. Use automation process for creating instant header images for posts from randoms craps I’ve got lying around. Crop, expand, filter, B&W then upload and open WordPress. Make it effortless and you might actually do it.


Worked (still working, actually) on the damn novel today for a few solid hours. Experimented with the sitting in a cafe full of other people typing on laptops thing. Went fairly well. This occurred at Cafe Grumpy in Greenpoint. Pretty good ambiance. What it’s got over the library is better hours of operation, no children and an obligation to be constantly pouring caffeine down my gullet as the price of being there.

Mostly a meta day. Organizing notes, putting already written pieces together and stitching them together with words. Did a massive overhaul of where everything sits, creating a good number more folders. The idea is to make it seem less like a big heap of gibberish and more like a clean streamlined process, like on cooking shows where they have all their ingredients pre-chopped and sitting in nice neat bowls, ready for the pan.

The new major categories that everything is filed in are:
+ A NewOrg (the actual novel, separated into files that roughly correspond to unequal sized chapters)
+ Acts and Threads (writing not yet organized into chapters but split into where it generally fits in the narrative, chronologically or thematically. both reference and holding tank for writing that will get pasted into chapters)
+ Characters (writing/notes specifically about one character or another. both reference and holding tank for writing that will get pasted into chapters)
+ META Things (inside baseball. talk about themes, design, marketing, to-dos, schedules, etc. no words that will actually turn up in the finished text.)
+ Notes and Components (writing that has yet to find a home, scraps of dialog, mulch for creating something)
+ Previous Schemas (obsolete means of organization. Scrivener files, old chapter systems, archives)
+ Tangents and Research (background material, things to consult, media diet)

To take it to the next level, I think I’m going to define the sort of files I like to have open and at the ready when I’m writing and whip up a macro to open them all at one go. I’m familiar with doing that on Windows but I’m still Automator illiterate, despite using Macs since ’04. Time to fix that.


Alright, time to actually write something, instead of just shoving at all around.