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April 28-30

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Archive for August, 2007

What’s the “O” stand for?

Oh, my God, it’s early.

Off to the airport.  See you on the other side.

It’s that time of year . . .

Well, it’s about that time, isn’t it?  The kids are going back to school.  The days are getting shorter.  And you know what that means . . .

Football!

Aye, it’s been a fearful long drought, pilgrims, but the Long Wait between seasons is almost over.  Can I get an amen?

I’m from Nebraska, folks.  What did you expect?  We take our football a tad seriously around here.

How seriously?  Put it to you this way:  Memorial Stadium in Lincoln has been sold out for every home game since 1962.  Yes, you read that correctly.  That’s forty-five consecutive years.  No one else comes close.  Not Texas.  Not Bama.  Not Notre Dame.  No one.

So I thought I’d take a moment to prognosticate on my beloved Huskers and the 2007 season.

Expectations are high this year.  The team seems to feel pretty good about themselves.  Hope springs eternal.  And as much as I love my ‘Skers, I have to say that I don’t share the optimism.

We’ve been trying to get back to national title contention under Bill Callahan, and to be fair, he has made great strides.  In my experience (solely as a fan of the game, never as a player), one of the telltale signs that a team is improving is when they start winning games they’re supposed to lose.  I saw that happen in 2005, when Nebraska went into its final two games as two-touchdown underdogs, and won them both (including a 30-3 hammering of Colorado, surely one of the sweetest NU victories in recent years).

In 2006, Nebraska had a better overall record than 2005, finishing 9-5 and winning the Big XII North.  Despite the numbers, though, I consider last year a bit of a setback for the team.  We didn’t beat anyone we weren’t supposed to beat, and we lost one or two games we were supposed to win.  (We could have pulled off a monumental upset of Texas last year, but we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a late fumble.)  The offense put up amazing numbers, but also had a nasty habit of falling asleep in the third quarter, allowing opponents to crawl back into games.  The secondary got scorched last year, and a veteran defensive line failed to put consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

In 2007, we have a new QB in ASU transfer Sam Keller.  The consensus seems to be that he’ll be great.  He certainly put up impressive numbers at ASU, but can he do it again?  Who knows?  Add to that four new starters on the D-line, a secondary that is still suspect, and a non-conference schedule featuring three teams that went to bowls last year–including the consensus pick for this year’s national champion, USC.  Ouch, babe.  Oh, and a week before USC, we travel to 2006 ACC champion Wake Forest.  Watch out for that one, gang.  My “upset alert” radar is already pinging.

A 2-2 start seems like a very real possibility.  And conference play doesn’t seem any easier.  Outside of the Ball State game, I don’t see any gimmes on our schedule.

It’s going to be an interesting season.  Personally, I would prefer it to be boring–forty-point blowouts that are over by halftime, where you can just sit back and admire the style.  Not gonna happen this year.  I’m not even sure we go to a bowl game.

Nonetheless, I will cheer for my team, rejoice when they win, despair when they lose.  Such is the life of a fan during football season.

As for the NFL–don’t even get me started on my beloved Dolphins.  Cam Cameron?  John Beck?  Who the hell are these guys?  Sigh.

Still, the Long Wait is nearly over.  Can I get an amen?

Progress Report, in which I get to thinking

With Dragon*Con looming, I’ve been feeling much pressure to get started on my Halloween story.  Actually, I wanted to have it finished before I left.  Ever the optimist, me.

Anyway, I set aside my read-through of Petra for the nonce, in order to focus on the short story.  I just wasn’t happy with the notes I had made.  So I made some more.  And then I made a few more.  I forced myself to think about the third act.  I figured that it’s one thing to begin an 80K novel with the ending still unclear–you still have time to come up with something–and quite another to attempt the same with a short story. 

As the week wore on, I got sick of the whole thing.  I started engaging in avoidance behaviors again, and that really pissed me off.  So on Saturday, I forced myself into the chair and banged out some prose, 500 words of the opening.  On Sunday, a big family do at our place made any further progress impossible.

So here I am with those first 500 words.  And I don’t like ’em.  I’m not even sure I like the story.  It feels less like a fun challenge and more like homework.  The thought of spending even the next few nights of my life tussling with it fills me with dread.  I have to wonder if it’s even worth pursuing.

You must understand, this is not like me.  Oh, sure, I’ve agonized over doubts before.  But once I begin something, I finish it.  That’s just how I operate.  Normally.  So for me to get 500 words into a story and then talk of abandoning it–well, something must be seriously wrong.

And then I got to thinking–and don’t you just know that’s when I get into the most trouble.

I don’t really want to abandon this story.  I want to write some new prose, and if I don’t do it now, it won’t be until after I finish the Petra rewrite.  It also occurred to me that maybe I just have the wrong opening for this piece.  That wouldn’t exactly be unprecedented, would it? 

My muse whispered an alternate opening to me late last night, one that might make the story a bit shorter, and more important, make it more believable to me.  I think I’m going to give it a try.  Once more unto the breach, dear friends . . .

Write Club update:  Tier one reject from Heliotrope, for “Friends in Low Places.”  Response time, sixteen days.

I leave for Atlanta on Thursday.  Looking forward to seeing some of you there.  It’ll be my first Dragon*Con, so I’m counting on some of y’all to show me the ropes.  (No SFWA suite?  No Tor party?  Whatever will I do with myself?)