After a long radio silence, we interrupt this program with breaking news:
I just found a cool product for archiving websites!
(actually, there are quite a few such products available)
Good for grabbing your favorite porn site and setting it up in an archive (or on CD), so you don’t have to keep subscribing to it. (Or, in my case, collecting and archiving all the AIDS Lifecycle rider pages, so you can go trawling through it for information later.)
This is a real godsend because there are about 1500 rider and roadie pages, about 1/3 of which are populated with all sorts of interesting information, but which will be deleted in the next month or so to make way for next year’s riders. So now I can archive them and refer to them later.
Also, thanks to a couple helpful programmer friends, I’ve trawled through the entire website and have that list of rider names/numbers that the office wouldn’t release to me earlier. I feel smug. 🙂 It will help a lot in networking.
Book-wise, I went through a long and mostly despairing week wherein the plot went to hell and I lost all understanding of the center-point of the piece. I spent several days looking at topic after topic and shuffling things around and around, with no results. Finally, in desperation, I actually did the RTFM thing (“read the fucking manual!”) and read two books on writing creative nonfiction.
Voila! The answer popped out. I was thinking about the book the wrong way. I was thinking of it as conventional nonfiction and trying to work out how to write a nonfiction book with a strict linear chronology–and work out who the characters were and what parts were relevant to the theme, whatever that was. I missed the point. The book is a quest story. As soon as I understood that, the two questions I needed popped out immediately:
Whose quest is it? –The collective participants in ALC3, i.e. the riders, roadies, and staff.
What are they questing after? –Community. It’s about the journey from a bunch of individual cyclists to a community.
That answers a lot of my questions about how to arrange the plot, what kinds of characters i should be looking for, and what order to introduce them in, but I’m not going to inflict all the gory details on you here. (If you plan to write a quest story about the growth of a community during a trip, send me a private email. )
But I find the idea of the right model to be fascinating…as with most things, the big difficulty is not so much finding “the right answer” as finding the right question. Once you ask yourself the right question, the answer practically unfolds itself.
It’s also a good argument for reading the effing manual.
I do find that having the right thought-model is 90% of learning anything new, though…if you have the right framework, you can work out just about anything, and if you don’t, you won’t understand a darn thing. 90% of mental blocks also come from having the wrong model.
For example: if my mental image of a car is “complicated piece of machinery that I don’t understand and might break”, I’m not going to learn much about cars. If I approach it with the thought that “this must make sense, I just have to learn how it works,” then it’s suddenly much easier to build my new mental model of cars.
I confess that I still consider cars to be inexplicable creatures, but I did overcome my fear of bicycles last week. I actually picked up and read my book on bicycle maintenance, and performed the basic set of recommended maintenance on my bike, all by myself. I have now gone from “bikes are complicated and scary machinery” to “it’s all very simple”. Mind you, I still don’t plan to tighten my spokes and true my wheels myself, but I understand how it works. More to the point, I view bikes as basic mechanical objects that must make sense, rather than “I think I’d better leave that to the experts.” This makes me very happy.
I had a few interesting moments at Lambtown Fiber Festival–I gave a talk on SE Asian textiles there, and got some guanaco (very rare relative of the alpaca), but I’ll defer that to later.
Also, I’m almost done with the spiral shawl! I’ve finished knitting it and am now weaving in 128 ends (!). Then I can wash and block it….! It is *gorgeous*. Even nicer than I’d hoped. My first thought on seeing it was, “This belongs in a museum!” I’ll post photos as soon as it’s fully complete.
And I’m pretty sure it fits through a ring, though I don’t have one to test it at the moment. Whee! Another ring shawl.