Feb 1 
          Okay, since the dare is done with, I've decided to keep a journal here of my day to day...um...day.  I won't bother with the word count (although I did mangage to get my 1000 words in today.)  I'm about halfway through the big pseudo-climax of the story (no, that's not a fake orgasm!  You people...honestly.)  So far so good.  I have this big battle between James and Aeshama--the bad guy--and I'd really like to make it something special.  Not just your average slug fest, but something unique.  Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to do that yet.  Oh well, I'm sure it will come to me.  (You hear that Inspiration--any time would be good for me!) 

Feb 2 
          It's Groundhog's Day--and my mom's birthday.  I don't know if the groundhog saw his shadow, but my mom says she did.  That either means there'll be six more weeks of winter, or dad finally fixed the light in the bathroom.  
          I had band practice last night--that's always a hoot.  We're playing this weekend, so we've scheduled another one for Thursday.  I should be posting some pictures of the band soon, as well as a song list, and maybe a bio.  Of course, since no one in the band is cooperating and giving me their bio's, I'll have to make them up myself.  Boy, are they going to be sorry.  
          I've only written about 250 words today.  I actually had to WORK at work today.  Still, the day's not over yet, and I'm determined to get my thousand words in.  I still haven't come up with that special angle on the battle yet.  Apparently Inspiration isn't taking my calls right now.  I've been on hold for the last day, listening to a Muzak version of Rock Lobster.  Inspiration can be so spiteful. 

Feb 3
         Not only didn't I get any more writing done last night, but I wrote squat today too, so get off my back--Okay!!  Oops.  Sorry, I thought you were my boss.  Force of habit and all that.  Anyway, I just can't come up with the angle I'm looking for on this fight scene. Tonight I've got band practice, so I can kiss any writing time goodbye.  Luckily tomorrow's another day.  (It is another day isn't it?  This one isn't going to keep repeating itself over and over like it did to Bill Murray in "Groundhog's Day," is it?  No, wait.  Groundhog's day was yesterday, so ....ramble, ramble, ramble... 

Feb 4
          Ta da!!  I finally figured out how to write the scene.  I wanted this to be more of a confrontation, not just the usual guy battles evil demon, with all that head twisting and projectile vomitting and stuff. Then it hit me.  (The solution, not the projectile vomit.)  Why did I use the demon Aeshama in the first place?  Because he was a Madness demon who induced rage, vengeance lust, and...um...madness.  After that it was easy.  I wrote 1,500 words in about an hour, and tied up this chapter nicely.  It's a good thing my subconcious knows what it's doing, because my concsious mind is clueless! 

Feb 5 
          Took the family on a day trip to Kingston (Ontario, not Jamaica. *sigh*) Ryan and I killed time in the mall while the women shopped, then we all had Mexican food--maybe not the best idea when you know you've got at least an hour or more car ride home.  I bought some parts for my drums at the music store.  My snare sounds sweet now.  I barely had time to change and then it was off to play one of the local bars.  It went well.  The place was small, but cozy and appreciative.  What more can you ask for.  Oh yeah, I didn't write a single word. 

Feb 6
          Spent the day recouperating from the previous night.  I didn't get home until 2:30 AM.  Pen, the sweetheart, had Chinese food waiting for me in the refrigerator.  Ryan and I lazed about most of the day.  I was going to write, but I just couldn't seem to clear my head.  Pen and I spent a quiet night at home together cuddling on the couch and watching TV.  At least it wasn't mentally taxing, although Pen did beat me two out of three falls wrestling for the remote.  She's small, but sneaky. 

Feb 7
          I woke up this morning feeling absolutely exhausted, so I called in sick.  It must be the winter blahs.  Lack of sunlight really affects me, and it's been pretty dismal around here lately.  I spent the day sleeping, eating, playing the drums, and chatting with the Sock Monkeys, all of which helped immensely.  Oh, and Charlie...you do have a habit of doing things the hard way, but it works for you so I say stick with what you know.  Marsha, trapping me with spaghetti is one thing; holding on to me is a completely new challenge.  By the way, I did mangage to write about 500 words today. 
Feb 8 
          The writing's back on track.  I managed another thousand words today and left off at a good place.  As long as things don't get strange at work, or I don't get hit by a falling peice of Sky Lab (I just know that there are still parts of it up there with my name on them) tomorrow should be productive too. 
          Karen at work is nagging at me to finish Darkside.  She's probably posted to Winnipeg soon, and will have my hide if I don't have it for her to read before she goes.  I know it's nice to have fans, but fans that outrank you?  I just pretend she's my publisher, and is forcing me to write to a deadline.  Hey, it's a lot healthier than some of the other things I pretend. Oops.  Did I write that down?  Where's that delete button... 

Feb 9 
          I met my writing goal for the day.  I think I have maybe 2-3 chapters to go at most.  If nothing else, finishing a novel gives you such a sense of accomplishment.  It's not something just anyone can do.  My kids whine just because they have to write a 500 word essay.  Even people who can write often don't.  It's the old cliche--"Someday I'm going to sit down and write my book."  Of course, they never do.  Some of my fellow Sock Monkeys are already at work on their third or fourth book.  (Charlie, Keri, Jason)  Writing isn't like art or music.  You can't play it at the local bar or sell it at the mall. 
          A lot of blood, sweat and tears (okay--pizza, soda and hair-tearing) went into a work that may never be read except for by a select few.  If you're lucky your friends and family might read it.  I wonder how many great novels--heck, how about just pretty good books--are just sitting on the author's shelf.  All I can say is, "Oh Fickle Finger of Fate, please don't let my novel be one of those!" 

Feb 10
          I wrote another 1000 words today, and finished a chapter. I've got the day off tomorrow, so maybe I'll aim for 2000 words.  Now that I'm in the home stretch I'm really anxious to see this finished.  Of course I've already got a sequel planned (a few actually.)  It's funny, but this book actually started out to be a short story and then it got away on me.  Apparently the characters had a lot more to say than I had first thought.  I really like this world, as I did the world I created for my first novel, Naejin.  
          I guess it's interesting that writing can be as much a form of escapism as reading is.  The neat thing is, the way I write the endings are just as much of a surprise too.  I've already got a first chapter done on the sequel to Naejin, and have a pretty good idea (that means hazy and vague as opposed to absolutely none in Steve Speak) where the novel is going.  Which means I'll probably write the sequel to Darkside first.  I wouldn't want to do things the easy way.  It could be habit forming. 

Feb 11
          I had the day off from work today and I didn't write a single word.  I played the drums, I chatted with my fellow Sock Monkeys (I just realised how demented that sounds) and ran a few errands, then watched TV with Pen all night.  Hey, if writing was my real job I'd get weekends and holiday time.  Heck, I might even call in sick occasionally, even if I wasn't really.  Of course, if I found out about it I'd have to fire me.  Then I'd be really pissed! 

Feb 12
          Pen and I went into Toronto today.  I got to go into all the cool music stores and drool over the new drum kits I can't afford. (Don't worry.  They're used to droolers.  I think they hire spitboys to buff up the kits after people like me leave.)  Pen bought me a new cymbal bag.  Funny, but when I stuck it on a stand and hit it with a stick it sounded like crap.  I was thinking of taking it back but Pen said it might come in handy for actually carrying the cymbals in.  Men--we really should read the instructions. Later Pen went to the Disney Store and bought herself a couple of shirts with Cinderella stuff embroidered on them, which made her really happy.  She didn't tell me how much they cost, which made me really happy.
          We went out to dinner at a nice restaurant.  I could tell it was nice by the way the staff effectively ignored us and provided poor service while still managing to charge ten bucks for what was basically a plate of sliced tomatoes in vinegar.  You just can't get quality like that at Taco Bell.  
          After dinner we went to the ballet.  Pen commented that the ballet was getting weird lately.  Getting wierd?  Basically it's a bunch of guys in tights bouncing around the stage to classical music for two and a half hours.  About the only thing weirder would be watching a bunch of guys in mukluks, tool belts and sailor's hats chasing each other around the stage with chainsaws to ACDC.  Come to think of it, I'd pay to see that.  
          I have to admit though, all that bouncing around has to be physically exhausting.  I have a theory that the reason the dancers are constantly running off stage into the wings is so that they can scarf down some pizza and a couple of beers to keep their energy up during the performance.  It's just  a theory, mind you. 

Feb 13
          I didn't write a word today either, so there.  This is the only weekend in a long while, and probably for a while to come, that Pen and I have actually had a chance to spend time alone together.  I took advantage of it.  Tomorrow it's back to work--back to writing and back to the "real" job.  The writing I look forward to.  The real job... 

Feb 14 
          The writing is back on track after a nice weekend off.  Everything seems to be going smoothly, and I've got a good idea what I'm doing with only two chapters to go.  I am so doomed.  I know it has to be a trap of some kind.  I can almost smell the ambush, and just when I need her most Inspiration will turn on me.  Luckily I have a contingency plan.  (Psst.  Hey you.  I don't really have a plan.  I'm just bluffing.  If Inspiration finds out then I'm really screwed, so keep it under your hat.) 
          I have band practice tonight because it's the only night the five of us can get together.  That's right, Pen's letting me out of the house on Valentines Day.  Is that a sweetheart or what?  (Yes, I am sucking up.  I have a highly developed survival instinct.) 

Feb 15 
          So far so good.  Karen at work told me today that she's telling all her friends she knows someone who's going to be a famous writer someday.  (She's talking about me, in case you were wondering.)  She said, and I quote, "You'd better not let me down."  (Do you have to say and I quote if you actually use quote signs?)  Maybe I was wrong to pretend she was a publisher keeping me to a deadline.  She's more like a Jewish mother.  Luckily I can handle the guilt.  Hey, I'm not Jewish. 

Feb 16 
          I got the same rejection letter today from Writers of the Future that Charlie (and apparently Steve Nagy) received.  Same hand-written note and everything.  At least I have a couple more short stories to send them.  Maybe I can wear them down until they give in just to get me off their backs.  I've given up hoping that someone might think I actually have talent.  Now I'm counting on pure dumb luck.  It seems to be a more effective strategy for success.  I've also invested in a Ouiji board, some rune stones, an astrological chart, a magic eightball, an some chicken bones.  (Well, I don't actually have the chicken bones yet. The local KFC was closed.)  I'm keeping all my bases covered. 

Feb 17-20 
          That's right folks--four days worth for the price of one.  Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up and think, "What the hell did I do that for?"  I'm really begining to appreciate the bliss that is unconsciousness.  Sometimes I wonder if that's what death is like--no real thought process, and just a hazy impression of self.  Hey, I could live with that. 
          I didn't do any writing over the weekend as I attended the Ad Astra Con.  I had a great time, met some great people, and learned a lot, which I will share with my fellow Sock Monkeys.  I basically made a nuisance of myself during the panel discussions, and even though I promised Karin several times that I would just sit there and shut up--well, I lied.  
          It seems to have paid off though.  At least two writers, Lynn Flewelling and Pat York, sat me down and gave me a good talking to.  They're both great people, and if you ever have the chance to meet them they're more than willing to talk about their work and share the secrets of "the business" with you.  (Although neither one of them would teach me the secret handshake.)  I also got to meet Christopher Stasheff, Charles de Lint, and was re-aquainted with Robert  Sawyer--who actually remembered me from the Context Con I attended with Charlie.  Unfortunately we really didn't have much of a chance to chat this time as he wasn't on any of the panels I was interested in.  That's a real shame too, as he's an excellent speaker and is genuinely helpful and willing to talk to his fans. 
          I also got to meet Karin Lowachee, who's just as bright and good humoured in person as she is on the written page.  Not only that, but she covered my meal when I lost my wallet--and no comments from the Charlie gallery. 
          Helen Vorsters was there also--another Del Rey alumini, and another great person.  (Hey, she put up with me.)  I keep hearing how people always seem to be dissappointed when they finally meet someone in person that they've only know through the Internet.  So far, I have always been pleasantly surprised, and never dissappointed. Of course, I can't say the same for them.

Feb 21 
          The let down after the Con is in full force.  For a whole weekend I got to be a writer.  I spoke with other writers and editors about writing.  I hung with people I actually have something in common with, who share the same passion for writing that I do, who understand the same frustrations I feel, who've banged their heads against the same walls.  I spent a weekend doing what I love, and felt like I could almost touch the dream.  Then it was Monday, and back to the mundane and a slap in the face from reality.  I feelthe same way after playing in the band.  I know.  Whine, whine, whine... 

Feb 22 
          Today was interesting on a couple of different fronts.  First off, the writing.  I knew that Inspiration was laying a trap for me, and I was right.  It abandoned me at a crucial moment, leaving me hanging by a plot thread.  I saw the destination, but the path between here and there was hazy.  Well, it took a little while, but today I adapted and over came.  Hey, I'm a fantasy/sci-fi writer.  Who needs straight lines anyway?  A little misdirection...nothing up my sleave...pay no attention to the interdimensional portal behind the curtain...and voila, I'm back on track again. 
          Secondly, I have been asked to do some strange things as far as my martial arts training is concerned, but today was a new one.  I spent this evening teaching a hockey team take down techniques.  Sort of like a Goon 101 class.  Who knows, I may be responsible for the next Tie Domi.  If only I had used my powers for goodness instead of evil. 

Feb 23 
          Well, I started the big finale today.  No, honest!  This is it--no fooling!  The end is in sight, and it looks like...well, it looks like the beginning.  I guess that's why there are sequels.  Anyway, once I get it finished and polished up a bit, there's a few friends at work who are waiting to read it.  They're not writers, just readers.  In some ways I find their input even more valuable because of that.  And of course, I graciously accept all criticism. "What do you mean, that didn't work for you? You brain dead @$#*&!  You wouldn't know foreshadowing if I hinted at it yesterday!"  Hmmm.  Come to think of it, if I ever do make it as a writer, maybe I should have a stunt double standing by if I'm ever asked to do a Con. 

Feb 24 
          I had band practice tonight, which I always enjoy--well, except for carrying the drums up from my basement, loading them in the car, then carrying them into the practice hall, setting them up, tearing them down again, and carrying them back out to the car.  Why couldn't I have played harmonica?  I need one of those ACME Instant Drum Kits in a Box like they have on Bugs Bunny.  Just push a button, or add water, and voila!  I always say we play for free, it's the set up and tear down that costs you. 
          As for the writing, it's coming, but slowly.  For some reason now that I'm in the home stretch I'm agonising over every word and sentence.  I'm lucky if I average three hundred words a day.  I don't get it either.  I know exactly where I'm going, so why am I having such a hard time?  I can see the  destination.  All my friends are there, waving me on.  I can almost hear them.  "Step into the Light, Steve."  Hey!  Wait a minute.... 

Feb 25 
          I took the day off of work to get some quiet time to write--and the basement flooded.  (Charlie, we are connected in just too many ways!)  I spent the whole day trying to dry out the carpet and it still smells like wet dog, which is odd because I'm pretty sure that it's not a dog skin carpet.  The only upside is that all this rain has melted all the snow (outside, not in the basement.)
           I thought I'd take the wife out dancing tonight, but the bar we went to was rather a dissapointment.  When we walked in, there was hardly anyone there except for these two almost pre-pubescent goth/punker/disco/biker chicks with more holes in there body than Bugs Maron's boyze after the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.  Come to think of it, the holes were probably full of just as much lead, too.  So much for dancing. 

Feb 26 
          Today was a total waste.  It was great!  I didn't do a damn thing all day; I didn't even make it out of the house.  I just found out we get this new channel on T.V. that plays a bunch of shows that we couldn't get before--like Jack of All Trades.  Bruce Campbell always cracks me up.  As a matter of fact, after watching an episode I think he would make an excellent James Decker, the hero from my novel Darkside.  He's got that same warped sense of humour, and he even looks the part.  That's rare, because I usually have trouble matching actors to characters I've created.  It doesn't matter anyway.  If I ever get Darkside published, with my luck they'll probably use Fabio as a cover model or something. 

Feb 27 
          I actually managed to leave the house today.  I took a walk to the store to buy some chocolate.  Of course, then I had to walk home, too.  A number of people waved at me and honked their horns as they drove buy.  I didn't know any of them.  At first I thought maybe I'd done something dumb, like leave the house without my pants or something, but a quick verification  check proved that wasn't the case.  As an instructor in the military I've taught thousands of students.  As a martial arts instructor, maybe a few thousand more. And then there's all the time spent playing in the band.  You meet tons of people (yes, I actually weighed them and it came out to several tons) who develop this connection with you because they see you on stage.  Of course, you never remember any of them.  (Well, okay.  Maybe one or two--tops.)  
          I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's a lot of people who know me, but I haven't a clue as to who they are.  Now I don't want anyone to think that I've been snubbing them, so I'd like to thank each and every one of them for their hard work and dedication in whatever class I was teaching, or for  coming out and supporting the band.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you--don't worry, if I haven't got to you yet, I will.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you... 

Feb 28 
          Darkside is coming along nicely--slowly, but nicely.  The problem is I've been extra dopey in the morning lately, which means it's at least afternoon before I get to do any writing.  I tried writing first thing in the morning, but it came out...well...dopey.  Too many late nights, I think.  Unfortunately it can't be helped, and the problem isn't going to get any better until at least the end of the week.  The band is playing Thursday and Friday Night, which means I should be mega-stupid by Friday morning.  I wonder if I could get away with calling in dumb.  "Sorry, Sir.  I can't make it into work today.  I'm just too dippy."  Nah.  If that was a valid excuse most of us would be on medical pensions. 

Feb 29 
          Nothing worth mentioning. I didn't get any real writing done.  I updated this journal, did a critique, worked out at the gym (it helps if you're still asleep when you do this) and spent the evening watching TV with Pen.  (Okay, I liked the watching TV with Pen part.) Too many days in a row like this and I'll be ready for a straight jacket.  Tomorrow should be a little more exciting.   I'm getting a hair cut.  What do you mean that's not exciting?  You've obviously never been to a military barber before, have you?  Once they get those clippers in their hands and start having flashbacks of the Korean War it's every man for himself.  The last thing I want to hear when I'm having my hair cut is, "INCOMING!!" Or, "Don't worry.  A little Agent Orange will thin that out a bit."