Saturday, May 26, 2007

I'm Loving It

I have my typewriter and it is such a huge improvement! I couldn't wait to get to it this morning. I got out almost four pages without pause (well, there was the pause for coffee, and then the one to set Kate up with a show, and then she wanted juice . . .). I love how it feels and I'm so glad I followed my gut with it.

The best part is having a stack of written pages at my elbow. It's so much more visceral (to borrow Kami's awesome word from last night) to have the pages right there. It is much easier to feel like a writer when I have a solid representation of my labors laid out before me. It makes me want to scoop up the pages and start editing!

But that must wait a while longer. I may, however, be forced to share excerpts at our get togethers, though. Which might be fun to do.

Speaking of which, it was great to see everyone again last night! I come away inspired, as always, even when my writing isn't on the group chopping block. It is good to hear other interpretations of critiques and to have them not always agree, because it gets me to thinking in a new perspective and that is always a bonus.

And while I'm eager to lay my own sacrifice upon the chopping block, I know I'm not there yet. I need to reach that point when I can do my own private evisceration first.

But the script, when I've finished it, will be fair game, because it will be such a new lifeform for us to examine. I'll happily offer it to the altar of inspiration to be pecked at by the crows of curiosity. In July, when it is done.

Only five more days before it is time to write it. I hope I'll be ready. Oh, who am I fooling? I won't be ready, but I'll write it anyway.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Low-teching It

This weekend I'll be purchasing a typewriter. I've been wanting one again for years, actually, not much longer than I sold my old one to the English Department for use by the teaching assistants. Computers were the Big New Thing with the internet exploding all over the place and I just lost my head, I think. Plus I was trying to be helpful to the other T.A. who didn't want to use the ancient machine we'd been given. And I needed the money.

No more! I want a typewriter! I have a dream, and it's a good dream, of sitting at my kitchen table in the morning, a cup of coffee at hand, two stacks of paper to the side, one stack blank, the other my continuing rough draft, and my typewriter humming along with the birdsong until my clack clack clackety clack drives all the birds away from the back porch. No internet. No word program crashing half way through writing up my script synopsis (grrrrr), no sitting where I'm the first thing everybody in the house sees, where the TV can grab for my eyeballs and the clutter in the living room stabs at my sense of cleanliness.

Just me, my coffee (which I now have the ability to make!), my stacks of papers and my typewriter. And maybe a plate of madeleines. And my dictionary. And music on the cd player.

Ooo, I'm so looking forward to this weekend!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Maybe they won't notice because I don't

Once upon a time, I figured that if I was excited about my writing, others would be excited about my writing.

Boy that was a long time ago.

In other words, when the story went well for me, I felt I was safe from criticism. I didn't know that I wore blinders while I read the story. I had a lot invested in the idea that my vision was being realized and that I had magically (and it really feels like magic) transmitted my imagination onto the page in a form that someone else could read and have that world transported into their brain. Pretty kewl stuff. I was sure I'd succeeded.

Stopping here for a moment to make the observation that if you're too critical of your writing when you're writing a rough draft, it's not going to happen. That's the time to take chances, live the illusion, believe in your heart truly that your characters are awesome and the setting is deeper than you've ever written before and the plot rips along and everything you touch is gold. If you listen to the hecklers and internal editor and the peanut gallery and, please don't do this! have people reading and commenting on your work as you write then everything you write will probably turn to dust because it will be infused with fear and there will be no surprises. You can't write creatively, freely and deeply if you're unwilling or unable to take chances. The hunter can't get the deer if he's always looking over his shoulder and listening to his fellow hunters commenting on his hunting style.

End of aside.

But, when you're done with the first draft (yay, my favorite part!) then you need to schedule a time for reality to set in. Maybe it's on the second draft, although I personally like to have that to myself as well most (but not all) times. There must come a time when you need to sit back and look at your work with a critical eye, and sacrifice it to readers and then listen to their comments with a critical ear (not taking all their comments for gospel and yet allowing their opinions matter enough to spur you to change the manuscript for the better.) Because the editor will not be reading with a sense of enthusiasm. In fact many readers don't pick up published books today with much hope. They read the jacket and the opening and make a snap judgement. And their internal dialogue might be:

Oh gawd, not another vampire story.
Plot sounds okay, but we're opening with the character at breakfast and he's already whining about his day.
Gee, I thought this sounded like a high adventure on the back cover but we're starting off with the main character about to be married against her will to someone she's never met. ~That's original and adventurous.~
Hmmm, we're starting with an encyclopedia entry and a cast of characters. Does this mean I'll have to take notes to understand this book?

In other words, your work is naked, bare-assed naked out there. The reader doesn't care about you and has no interest in making you feel good, understanding you or anything else. The reader doesn't know you (although later they will claim to know you because they've read so many of your books, right?) They haven't read all your short stories and come to expect a certain quality. They don't know you're the master of the twist ending, or that if they let themselves sink into the setting it will feel real. In fact many of them aren't truly aware that the book was written by a person. They know intellectually that there are authors and they live in houses with families (or alone in a Victorian mansion with organ music drifting up from the basement) but subconciously the book seems to have been written by someone or something that lives at the publisher's warehouse. Then the book is printed and shipped out to bookstores on a regular basis, where it can be read and enjoyed or derided within the privacy of the reader's mind, and discarded or appreciated with no thought as to the writer's feelings. It's a mass-produced product not too different from the box of donuts a buyer picks up, a game they buy off the shelf and they have no vested interest in enjoying it. In fact, often they want an excuse not to buy it because if they don't then they can get a pizza instead. If they do buy it, they desperately want to be entertained in exchanged for their hard earned cash and their precious time--disappointment comes hard at today's paperback prices, never mind the hard cover.

How do you cope with that? How do you prepare your manuscript for that?

I'm still learning how, but I know it has nothing to do with the way I write the early drafts. I have to learn to notice the cliche's, where it drags, where the dialogue can be mocked while being read aloud at a campfire. True, anything, even good writing, can be mocked if spoken with a funny voice or read through the expectation is that it will be bad writing. But just as a reader will have a touch of faith that this book might be something they could really love, the writer has to have a touch of cynicism that this book isn't all it's cracked up to be in their minds. Their son may be a pretty good boy at home but he might be the school bully.

Writing a novel is a big, weird job, but I guess someone has to do it. Books will be written. Readers will love and/or hate them. May our powers of observation guide us well and help us create more books for readers to love.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Asserting Myself Around Town

I've had a couple of odd dreams in the past few nights where I am suddenly very assertive. As in, calling people out when I don't like what I'm seeing or experiencing. For anyone who knows me, they know this isn't a typical Ris reaction. I'm more of the put up with it until I can escape type. I'm wondering, though, if these dreams mean I'm actually becoming more assertive in my waking day. I'll have to keep an eye on my own reactions to see.

And that wouldn't be a bad thing at all. After all, running away at the first signs of difficulty isn't a good way to be a writer. Which might accounted for all the files I have of started but unfinished stories. I put them aside as soon as I ran into plot troubles and moved on to something easier (and less work). I haven't done that lately. Sure, I've gone from one story to another, but I end up circling back around to the first story after a while. Sometimes all I needed was fresh eyes to find where to take the story next.

But if that doesn't work, I'm still not running away. I'm embracing other methods.

Take Mummy Case. I'm to a point where I'm starting down the muzzle of the plot gun, but it hasn't fired quite yet. I'm starting to questiong the validity of scenes and ask myself if this trip is really necessary and all those other cliches, but I haven't put it aside. Instead, I'm telling myself Go Outline, Young Writer! An outline will make it all better. Or at least clearer on how each scene is building up to the other and how they'll all come together. I guess I'm to the point where I need a map to find my way around.

And that feels right. I've tested the characters up to 17,000 words and found them compelling and fun. Testing characters can only happen by writing characters. But testing plot can happen in outlining to a point, and I think that is where I'm at now. Testing the loose plot ideas I have in my head, and figuring out how and when I can add in more elements to the story to advance the theme and the genre along with the plot. And that feels good, even when I'm not ending up with word count after the day is done. Well, a few words, but not where I'd like to be during a typical day of writing.

And that's okay, because untypical days come up! We like untypical days. Untypical is fun. (Is untypical even a word?)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Stories within Stories.

On the whole, I’d have to say I’m not a big fan of stories embedded inside of stories. I haven’t seen very many of them done very well, not that I’m an expert or have read everything on the planet that might contain one or two examples. I’ve often found it ‘cheapens’ the reading experience for a reader as though the author didn’t have anything to say really during that particular scene but needed something to take up space. If so, I can do that and maybe I should try my hand at it sometime.

This goes for those embedded stories that actually have something to do with the original story surrounding it too. Surely, one or two exists somewhere; I’m currently reading an anthology of horror and fantasy that contains one or two of these kinds of works and they’ve won awards (none from me in case you might wonder), but maybe that’s why writers do just that–to fill space with stuff that can’t really be presented any other way without boring the reader to tears or making a reader wonder, “How the heck did the character know all that?”

(BTW, that last part was a fine example of a run-on sentence, don't you think?)

Almost Everything I Needed to Know about Writing I Learned by Daily Writing

Writing daily has its perks. There's a feeling of continuity, and a flow that comes with daily writing that turns the creative process into a kind of perpetual motion machine. The writing goes faster when it's daily too, and the habit of daily writing shortens or eliminates a lot of the chronic "now I'm sitting down to write" problems.

Writer's block: I haven't had as much trouble with writer's block as I used to back in the day, whenever the day was--it's been a long time. Sometimes I get dragged down by a scene, or I get bored, or a storyline fizzles. When that's happened a few gizillion times it's no longer a big deal. You go back and figure out where the story became predictable, or where you lost the thread, or where the action stopped and you fix it, or you let that project rest for a while and work on another one.

Staring at the blank screen: A blank screen isn't as intimidating as it used to be. A few seconds, sometimes minutes if I'm having to dig deep, and away we go. I'll probably change the beginning after the first draft anyway. A blank screen is an opportunity to finger paint before you get down to the actual process of creating art.

What-to-do-itis: Related to writer's block. Sometimes when the story runs out of steam, people get stressed. They start taking polls from their readers (if they're serializing it or workshopping it) asking what to do next. They fret that the story is horrible anyway and not worth pursuing. They try to work out logically what would be the next plot step, or hope that their characters will bail them out. When you've done enough daily writing, you learn what works for you, and it's probably none of the above strategies which involve popular opinion or muses or characters with their own will. Me? I do the worst possible thing to the character. Sometimes it's the thing they dread the most. Sometimes it's worse than the thing they dread the most, beyond their imagination. Doing the worst thing takes guts and thinking, and sometimes a little plot reworking. Yeah, I sweat, but you know, there's this magical thing called reverting to the original document if it doesn't work out. The point being, when the story stops working, it's time for the writer to get to work and stir things up a bit.

No time to write: Uh huh. The thinking is, if I don't have three hours, or an hour or whatever time frame, it's not worth sitting down to write. I have to have X amount of time to 'get in the mood' or 'find the flow,' etc. EH! Daily writing shortens this artificial time frame until eventually you sit down at the computer to check email, glance at the clock, and think hey, I've got five minutes before I have to start getting ready for work. And then you push that five minutes to fifteen and grab a Slimfast instead of making a bologna sandwich. Works for me.

These constant interruptions!: The situation is that when you sit down to write, there are distractions. Currently I'm tired, the cat is meowing for attention, I have dishes to do, I have a fresh sunburn that makes my shoulders do the heat emanation thing and makes my shirt feel scratchy. Some days you have to get up to deal with something every thirty seconds, or you contend with loud and obnoxious music or a couple fighting next door, dogs barking, or people come in and want to ask you this or want you to find them that, and you want to nail the door shut (if you have a door) to the office and hang up a "Do Not Disturb" sign next to a biohazard placard in the hopes that you'll have two frickin' minutes to rub together. With enough daily writing, two consecutive minutes aren't necessary, although they're very much appreciated. Fifteen seconds is enough to complete a sentence and/or thought between putting out fires and stoppage of arterial bleeding. (Looks like the kitty has food, and the dishes really can wait until morning. We're good to go for some writing, with or without further interruptions.)

Can't ... find ... right ... word: I used to use the thesaurus a lot. I also used to stop writing entirely until I found a fact I needed. I kept 3x5 cards (hard to imagine that I used to be organized) of various world building and character facts so that I could, at a glance, learn what the capitol city of Arrak el Eslahm was, count to fourteen using base 12 number systems and know exactly how long it takes to travel from Earth to Alpha Centauri traveling at 1.4 light speed. I kept careful timelines and took travel distances into account even on a first draft. If I had to look something up in the library, all writing would stop until I could convince my mom to take me or until I had enough cash to hop a bus there and back again. Ironic that I learned to just type XXXXXX or parenthetical comments like (and here Kami inserts a brilliant passage about Beggar Smith cleaning her black powder firearm with all kinds of juicy details supplied by Jacob) before Google and Wikipedia. Then again, relying too much on those 'fast' sources still slows down the writing process more than is strictly necessary. If researching facts, going back through your work to find the color of a character's horse or paging through a thesaurus inspires, fine. If it's an excuse to stop writing, boo! XXXXX rules!

I'm sure I learned more from daily writing, but I forgot. Oh well! Time to write some more!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Full House

We've added a dog into the household mix Monday. He's a sweet, clever, friendly, loves to be cuddled boy. Part lab mix, two years old (as opposed to the original estimate of 9 months), very gentle with Kate and a little scared of the cats (a fact they use to their advantage).

The household has been a little turned on its ear this week. Not much else getting done around here, though I finally managed to do most of the dishes yesterday. Today feels like we're getting back to normal, well, a new normal since there is now lots to do with Beau that didn't exist before. Luckily, several of the things we do with him happened before he came, like going outside and taking walks and feeding the animals. But tossing a ball around for him is completely new (and very fun, he's so polite about dropping it). And the cats need lots of extra attention (demanding it, actually).

Today, though, I'm getting myself back into the daily routines. I will get my writing done. I'll finish laundry and dishes. I'll work on drafting up my script outline for Script Frenzy. I'll do finances and send in our payments. And I think I'll still manage to spend lots of time with Kate and Beau and TC. And write. Did I already mention writing?

Monday, May 14, 2007

It's a boy!

Gender Genie declared that "Masks" is written by a male author. Yay!

Mark wants to know if there is an orientation genie and if the orientation genie might not have decided that Masks was written by a gay guy.

Anyway, it was a score around 700ish on the male side and 400ish for the female side, pretty heavily guy. I feel the testosterone flowing through my veins! Oh, the power ...

Meanwhile, I took a few days off of writing for Mother's Day and general head straightening. Maybe I don't need my head on straight for writing, especially Masks, but nonetheless it felt good to do things like housework (yes, I did housework on Mother's Day) and gardening and grocery shopping (where much steak, king crab and shrimp was procurred, taken home, and devoured.) Tomorrow, a day off work will lead to dancing, er, I mean writing, yes, I meant writing all along.

Sometimes writing feels real, but if I spend too much time writing, it becomes unreal. Every so often, the actual world I live and breathe in has to take precedence, not just so that I can remember how the burgundy topped, deep green grass flashes gold when the wind snakes through it, but so I can feel earth, smell sweat, and look at Jupiter's moons through my telescope. There is an actual planet other than my own that my eyes can touch. No book can replace or match that sensation of Universe. I have to be real. I have to live, and only then can I live to write.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Getting Together

Great evening last Friday! It is so nice to get together every couple of weeks to talk stories and writing and whatnot. I come away with my batteries recharged and I'm ready to write!

I'm looking forward to reading more on Enthusiast (thanks for the next two chapters, Carole) and reading the new version of Masks (thanks for the first four chapters, Kami). I'm curious about the dark fantasy short story, too, Carole, though I must admit I'm a little afraid to read it. Horror-esque and I are on shaky ground together. But I will read it!

I'm eager to start submitting stuff of my own for you two to fuss over, but I know I'm not ready for that yet. At least not until my script is done (when you'll be oh so tired of it!). I'm pleased that I'm holding myself back from rushing into a critique, as is my usual inclination. It just does me no good, and wastes your time, too, to have a piece critiqued that I know is flawed and can guess where most of those flaws are. Much better to have a piece critiqued that I think is strong and can no longer find the flaws and gaffs and rough places as easily. I'm looking forward to that day, but I can't say when it will come. Not yet. Maybe when I get closer to the end of Mummy Case or Warrior Storm.

For now, I'm enjoying being a part of your editing process and keeping my word count flowing!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I DID IT! I wrote, edited, rewrote, and finished a short story! 3,472 words of dark fantasy/horror. My first! And I like it too!

I'm just so happy and excited I could squeal.


Thank you. I return you to your normal Internets activities.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

63037 words

I've hit another landmark in Masks.

I'm now in totally new territory, and that feels fabulous and freeing. Well, I'm not going to deviate too terribly from the original plot, but the devil, and apparently temptation and satisfaction, are in the glorious details.

Sometimes a flash of reasoning or experience comes along, or something outside that gives a moment of inspiration. Facing the inevitability of death last night (this happens from time to time) and on this particular night, the fact that I would have to go onward alone, brought in huge waves of inspiration and insight into Mark's needs and pain. He is, more than any other character I've written, desperately alone and when he leaves his emotionally bereft shelter he is even more alone.

So when he's bonded as a jester, he's no longer alone, and that moment became huge. It also became more spiritual, thanks to some ideas that ambled into my brain at a convenient time about the spiritual world and what one possibility might be like, then tweaking that into the Masks universe.

I also managed, for once, to end the chapter on a cliffhanger. I don't have many habits from short story writing, especially since I'm not much good at short story writing, but one habit that clings is the one where you end on a resolution rather than an unresolution. Scenes don't have as much a problem as chapter endings, my chapters being roughly short story length. My mind takes me to the end of the chapter where something has resolved, and I don't continue past the point of resolution because that seems unnatural. I want to end it there and continue onward in the next chapter to the following related idea, sometimes with a transitionary idea that keeps the book unified. I think this habit may also come from essay writing (I think I may be better at essays than short stories but who can ever figure out what they're good at anyway?) where each paragraph is a complete idea that gently leads to the next idea with transitionary sentences. There is a minor resolution in each paragraph, and then the whole essay ends in a complete resolution with maybe a few unresolved questions--they'd better be unresolved for a reason and in there in the first place for a reason if you want a good essay--hanging about for intrigue.

One of my tasks when I go to polish this beastie is to check out, in a mechanical way, beginnings and endings of chapters and look at the structure and length of the chapters. I'm not really looking forward to that. The idea that I might have one less chapter end to fuss with is a relief and a pleasure, and now I can go outside and garden with a sense of a job somewhat done.

Just Thought I'd Share

In case you weren't aware:
Today is no day for false modesty. You know that you're brilliant, so admit it.
I must admit that I feel rather brilliant. Wrote a good chunk on a new chapter of The Mummy Case yesterday, hoping to get through the middle section of it today, and then did lots and lots of gardening, then came inside to make and hang summer curtains. And continued thinking about writing even while doing all of that.

It's good to be me.

It's not so good to be my characters, but they're stuck with what they have. Mwahaha!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Gender Genie.

Recently I discovered a great, fun little tool online called the Gender Genie. It guesses the gender of the author who has typed or pasted in some of their text. 500 words is better than just a sentence or two and it only takes a minute or less for results (depending on your connection). Plus it shows the keywords more often than not used by female and male authors.

Periodically, I enter some of my "Enthusiast" text and only once have I come up with "female." As you know, I want that body of work to sound as if written by a male and had previously asked a published author at the San Diego Writer's Conference for his thoughts (he said definitely male-written).

I hope you have fun with Gender Genie!

(For fun, I submitted this blog entry into Gender Genie and it said it was written by a female.)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

How much is that doggy in the window?

Presented with a chance to submit a chunkaroo of Masks to the INK group, I have to ask how much is too much? In order to go from the beginning (which I suppose could be skimmed) to just after where we left off last time (which at the time was just before we got to the islands, geh, and now with all the additions will be just as we get to the islands (a mere 3 page intro to island badness) will amount to 127 standard ms pages, or around 34,600 words.

That, um, is a lot of words.

So, what's the limit to which someone can tax their readers in one chunk?

And suddenly the Eagles song is in my head:

Take it to the limit
Take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time ...

Thursday, May 3, 2007


The trouble with obsessions (read more about this on my personal blog--link to the left) is that they don't let you alone long enough to concentration on the things that need doing.

I've been fighting starting a new story for a few days now, and when I finally broke down and tapped out 400 words on it, I learn that the newest incarnation of the month-long writing challenge begins in less than a month. I've been planning to participate in Script Frenzy (again, see link to the left) since I heard about it last November. Now it is almost upon us and I had nearly forgotten about it!

But not to fear, I remembered just in time to see the site go live. I'm all signed up, profile updated and everything (Poetmage is my screenname there, for any who are interested), and, what is even better, I have this nifty story idea demanding an outlet! Woo hoo! No new novel for me (because, quite frankly, I've started a new one each month since starting my daily writing goal, and if I keep that up, I'll be juggling around fifteen stories by the end of the year--and that would just be silly).

I'm very pleased to have a story idea just demanding to be told, because the last time I contemplated Script Frenzy, I had no usable ideas at all, just a few vague notions that would shrivel up in the light of day. No longer! I have a solid, feasible idea that I get to develop over the next few weeks in anticipation of writing it as a script in June.

The problem is that I have to wait until June to start writing it, because that is when Script Frenzy officially begins. Month-long writing challenge, lasting through June, with 20,000 words the target goal.

Almost a whole month I have to wait, while this idea gnaws at me from all angles. I'm hoping just working on the development will give me some relief and let my concentrate on The Mummy Case, which is now over 15,000 words.

Not today, I think. My head is stuck in script-land, no matter what sort of fight I put up. I think its the newness, having just found the site live today and signed up and all. I'm excited and eager, but maybe tomorrow I'll have some perspective and can work in my daily writing without being quite as distracted. Today, I'm just going to give in and ride the wave of anticipation. I don't want to the anticipation to go away, not completely, but I'm going to need a little breathing room if anything else is going to get done. And I mean ANYTHING else. The sinks are full of dishes, I can't remember if I ate lunch, Kate did only because she stood next to my desk chair and kept repeating "Something to eat, Mommy, something to eat." The floors are sprouting kittens worth of cat hair and I think I may have forgotten to put on deodorant.

So tomorrow I'll concentrate on things like writing on The Mummy Case and putting on deodorant and feeding Kate before she has to hit me over the head with her empty sippy cup. Today I'm riding the wave. And tossing food to Kate as I go.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


I reached the end of the first, large section of Masks. The way I remember it, the second section is shorter. It also needs the most revising. Still, here we are in May and it looks like I'll finish Masks well before the end of the year. Then, finally, I can send out queries (and upgrade to another Mac instead of the dreaded PC. Boy, talk about a motivator.)

I should mention that INKers have cattle prods after the style of a writer who, if he didn't meet his writing goal, forced himself to write a check to a nasty conservative religious group he particularly despised above all others. He told his friends of this goal, and the one time he didn't make his goal, he wrote a check. He never missed a goal after that.

My cattle prod is that if I don't reach my goal, which is to finish revising Masks by the end of the year, I'm not allowed to upgrade my computer to a Mac. I must upgrade to a PC. I told my fellow INKers and anyone who I thought would care about this. Not following through is not an option, and I want to throw up when I think about upgrading to a PC instead of a Mac, hence, not reaching my goal is not an option.

It's the strongest motivator I've found since I've started writing. It's taken me through Chapter Eight in Masks, to 57,501 words that I wouldn't blush in total shame to show an editor or agent. Masks will still need a final polish before I can send it out, but after the revision I shouldn't need anything in perfect (or as close as I can get it) form for queries. Queries will require ten pages at most of the manuscript if any at all, and while the queries are out I can polish to my wee heart's content. And should a query come back with a request for the whole manuscript before I'm done polishing, I won't mind the last part being rough. If they read that far, I'm doing good, and they'll know I'm capable of doing better (or they may find the rough part reads faster and is more entertaining--polishing does tend to suck the freshness and soul from a manuscript.) At that point any rewriting will be to spec--oh joy! No decisions to make, no worries about if this reads too fast or too slow or is too cliche'--an 'expert' (more importantly, the person responsible for getting me paid) will make most of the decisions for me. Unless they're way off base and derail the plot with a suggestion (which is wholly possible,) I see no reason to argue a fine point in a rewrite when they're offering me money to do it.

But I'm getting way, way ahead of myself. This is a display of excitement and enthusiasm after reaching a landmark in the editing process. Boy, I hate editing. But sometimes, it can be fun. Today was a good day.