Progrep 63: Deleted Scene

IRL, I’m still wrassling with bCourses (may almost have the critter tied down).  In the meantime, no new words written in the novel, so here’s an early scene I plan to cut from the first draft of part 1.

Deleted Scene, First Draft, Part One, Eyes on the Mountain

After the ceremony celebrating the installation of her painting at Sony Corporation’s Tokyo headquarters, Maggie went shopping near Mt. Fuji in a small district that specialized in local artists’ wares. It was there that she saw the kokoro box.

The proprietor of the shop, a bent-backed elderly woman in a dove-gray scarf, pulled the brightly colored box out of the display case and laid it across a silk pad on the case’s glass top. “Hand made,” the proprietor said, rotating the wooden box slowly so that Maggie could view each of the four sides and the top and bottom all covered with paintings of cranes flying across natural and artificial landscapes rendered in vivid jewel tones.

Maggie smiled. “It’s beautiful.”

The proprietor nodded and opened the first box to reveal another nestled inside. She lifted the second box out, set the first box aside gently, and opened the second as if handling a great treasure. Inside sat a third, still smaller box.

“It’s like a Russian doll,” Maggie said.

The proprietor fell silent, her hands still, then coughed softly. “I see. But.” Her hands moved again: a fourth box, a fifth. “I think, not Russian. Not doll.”

Maggie watched, enchanted, as each box was opened to reveal another, each new box smaller and differently decorated than the preceding. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten ….

The proprietor set the tiny eleventh box in the center of her wrinkled palm, cocked her head at an angle, and looked at Maggie out of the corner of her eye. She held the box up, as if inviting Maggie’s close attention.

“Is that the last?” Maggie asked, bending down to study the box. It was made of whitish wood carved so that the surface was bumpy like chicken skin. One of the bumps was dyed a soft blue.

The proprietor raised a finger and pressed the blue bump. Instead of opening like the others had, this box unfolded to lie flat; the four sides separated at the seams and fell away from the center, one side carrying along the hinged lid, which lay equally flat on the woman’s palm.

In the center of the flattened box sat a diminutive carving in dark wood. Maggie leaned closer.

“Kokoro,” the proprietor said, lifting the carving out and placing it into Maggie’s hand. “Means ‘heart’.”

Maggie ran her forefinger over the wooden carving. It was a shoe. An empty baby shoe.

Like a pallet knife to the heart, the memory came: Samuel, her precious baby Sammy, face gray in death after Menkes disease carried him away.

Maggie closed her fist gently around the carving. Her other hand shook as she reached for her wallet.


bCourses = be curses

UCB’s bCourses continues to whup my ass. I see the benefit of having a content management system, but it doesn’t seem to be able to do what I want it to do — simple things, like print the online syllabus in larger font rather than make me create two versions, one online and one offline for printing. Having two versions just increases the possibility of error. And what happens when bCourses is down or slow? Or when students can’t access the internet?

So far, prep that usually takes three hours has taken three days . . . and I haven’t even started on the argument course.


What’s the Word For . . .

parcheesi-markers-optWhat’s the word when you make the wrong move that saves the day?

Yesterday in parcheesi, I made a totally unnecessary and by the numbers risky move that didn’t even set up anything useful, and it accidentally allowed me to blot my opponent and zoom ahead to win the game. There was nothing calculated, no percentage being played. The move was entirely without reason, and in fact exposed me to a high-percentage likelihood of being blotted myself.

This must happen in higher stakes environments: relationships, war.  It seems like there should be a word for it.

I don’t mean lucky, or stupid. I’m not even sure I’m looking for an adjective.

Is there a word for that theoretically wrong and actually pointless (and probably unintentional) but ultimately situation-saving action?

Huh.  Maybe just life.

Progrep 62: Part Three Thunk

Huzzah!  I see a way to tighten the beginning of part two (taking a tip from Joss Whedon, I’m going to concentrate on the “Maggie of it”).  Rather than tighten it and the rest of part two now, I’ll move on to part three . . . or, at least, move on to thinking about part three, because there’s no time to do much more than think as I prep for the impending fall semester.

In thinking about part three, I’ve realized that Trish is going to be extremely angry with Maggie when Maggie refuses to rid herself of the Mysterious Object.

Auditioning Fabrics

I’ve hung several fabrics on the design wall, thinking about a Halloween quilt.  Gives me something to look at besides the computer screen.




Drat bCourses

Preparing for the upcoming semester is taking much more time than usual because I have to figure out how to use bCourses instead of bSpace to build the course websites. I have lots of material in html format, designed to display online, and none of it seems to work in bCourses. Changing all that is a monumental headache.

Teaching is a joy, but this slog prepwork is joyless.

Progrep 61: Part Two Problems

photoPart two moves too slowly AND too quickly, intercutting among several POV characters (all in third person), sometimes spending too much time with a character, and sometimes spending too little time, and at this point, I don’t know if any of that time is interesting.

To fix the problem with part two, I should either change the structure, or prune, prune, prune the text.  I’ll probably start by pruning, because the structural changes would be massive; I’d have to import sections from part three, which would add even more characters and POVs to the already crowded cast of part two.  If I could, I’d let Maggie carry the entire POV for part two, but I’d like the readers to care about the other part-two characters, an effect that would be undermined if I omit their POVs.

The world in part two has to be appealing.  If it isn’t, a sequel to Eyes on the Mountain will be less enticing.

Of course, no one has read part two except for me.  Maybe it’s better than I think.  But probably not.  :)

(That sticky note on the page says, “Pestle interference @ ends seems irrelevant . . . “, which isn’t the sort of note I want to be leaving myself.)