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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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four days to code freeze is time to start procrastinating like a lifestyle choice
children of dune - leto 1

Code freeze is Monday, which means that it should be a weekend of some kind of breakdown, because dude, prime time ready it is not. I can always tell my stress level by whether or not I voluntarily ask a coworker for a condescending or sarcasm check when filing defects; when I have to do it three times in one day because I genuinely can't tell how normal people argue that a scrollbar should scroll, being its functionality (you would think that wouldn't even need a defense, wouldn't you? No, I had to actually explain this when they were trying to withdraw it).

I actually know, in all ways, that the developers will work with me when I'm pleasant and carefully explicit in a way that doesn't sound like I'm calling them and all their ancestors unto the beginning of time absolute idiots. It's not like I want a War of the WW3 Standards via message, text, and email with eight to twenty CC's per contact including people of escalating importance who probably want to switch to stone tablets if it gets us to shut the hell up; however, I can't prove I don't want that, because every so often I forget the actual importance of this particular defect and fight that shit to the ground like I'm saving the planet from an alien invasion and all the doubters get their asses smited as credits roll. It's unreal. And worse, no one gets smited even if I win (when I win, btw, in case that needs to be stated here). Mostly it's just everyone is vaguely hostile and I'm sulking because again, the doubters gonna doubt but I want a fucking smiting for the lack of faith and this is where it gets weird, this is when I pull the source code and start line editing their html.

This has happened three (3) times.

I can't explain this rationally, because it's not rational, but it's almost a depressingly predictable formula in which a certain number of defects (x) multiplied by the number of times (y) I have to call for backup (both verbal and electronic) to the z power, equaling wordcount required to get those defects fixed being greater than 5000 cumulative. This increases one order of magnitude each day I have to wait to see a fix and if at any time I had to do a bullet point list because sarcasm check failed hugely. It should actually happen more, so allow for number of days until code freeze, when all my attention is concentrated on panic. But before that.

Twelve years in fandom, if nothing else, taught me to never be able to unsee misaligned text, center-justifying, one pixel difference in font size, or elements do not coordinate. I've gathered shellshocked people around my desk with a ruler and held it up to my monitor to show the goddamn text is pulled over two pixels or my threshold 1% deviation. I've also printed it and did this with graph paper. I'm not wrong, but I am crazy, and I know this.

Here is where I admit something that's both uncomfortable and hilarious; until I look at the source, I only know something is really wrong and it bothers me, but I couldn't tell you what it is to save us from the hypothetical alien invasion. The 1% above is a really sad joke, because I spent ten minutes with a print out and a sharpie until I found out that they'd pulled the margins over by 1% and caused a very slight yet very crazy-making smushing of text that i knew was wrong but just didn't know why. If I'm paying attention, I can pick up the bigger problems which are (somewhat) easier to argue just because it doesn't require me to do a live demonstration and scare people, but the little stuff my mind just skims because why do that to myself? And most of the time, I'm testing driver flow and functionality, so I only have like, a few seconds per page, so I'm not even probably consciously picking it up. But unerringly, two or three pages make me twitchy and that's when Gaze Upon Me and Despair For Arguing With My Rightness kicks in and everything goes wrong so fast. And I end up with one or more defects, bullet pointed, with a list of everything wrong with that page, and here's a fact, I may only catch that text problem, but didja know the line breaks may be off too, and then it's off to the races. Give me three hours, a red marker, and the WW3 website open to the appropriate pages, and might as well give up right there.

The worst times (last time), I surfaced half-way through writing the defect, stared at it in horror (it was now at five pages in MSWord so I could spellcheck, which just, for the record, when I spellcheck my defects, dude, we have passed the point of no return), and I thought what the hell am I doing? And yet I had to keep going, because see above, once I'm spellchecking my bullet point defect on why you fail at WW3 and javascript, better luck running me over with a truck (and kill me) than getting me to back down and not file it. But it's a lot less enjoyable, because I feel guilty about it, and not a little afraid of the growing documentation in government hands that I'd be a fair to good weapon to deploy on an employee they want to have quit at top speed. Considering when the teams changed for the last build, the new team was already familiar with me when we met in a way that was not so much 'one of the regular testers working on this' but 'oh my God did you really send that huge email arguing a theoretical policy point even though the kind of thing you argued usually is accomplished in a Congressional vote before being signed by the president?' I mean, they didn't say that, but it was there.

That's why I said the html line editing only happened three times; sometimes, I try to...reinterpret federal welfare policy expansion to disqualified families with a more enlightened and we might say more metaphorical view of how to read some significant key points of the Welfare Reform Act of 1994, among other welfare laws. I mean, not like, formally (I haven't actually read all of it yet), it's just as it turns out, my view of policy is 'will this cause people to be denied? Get rid of it' which apparently is not the view of policy taken by those who make it.


I'm staring at 110,000 words of fic that has come to the point of worrying me. To be fair, I usually don't have a really hard time with length because by this point, the end game is in sight, or at least, telescopically viewable, and I'm writing toward a defined goal. I'm really not right now. Right now, I'm writing toward diy solar panels, which I tricked Child into researching for me pretending he would do his next science fair project on them. Which I suppose two for one?

Here's the thing, and I had this suspicion earlier when I ruthlessly cut over the course of a week ten thousand words and immediately added twenty thousand that were even more unlikely than the ones I removed; I'm actually putting it off. And I'm doing a really good job, by the way; according to my estimates, I'm way off where I should be by my original pacing by a margin of about fifty thousand words on a conservative estimate.

There's all this minutia that's just catching me up, like, the fun stuff which isn't even epic fighting and blowing shit up and the end of the world and those are my favorite parts. And there are these all really strange transition jumps because I literally squee to myself to add something else I always wanted to do and what the hell, why not. Dude, I do not deny my id even when I'm trying to be all, you know, less transparent (no other way would I have more than one story involving branding for greater apocalyptic justice, with a side order of porn), but hear me out, I'm feeling a thematic dissonance.

I'm an oppositional writer, which means my jump point is a hard disagreement with canon and fanon and you might say I'm willing to go to the mat, fictionally speaking, to see if I can prove it (above and beyond the inherent argument in slash or the inherent fact canon is not like, an unpopular antagonist for everyone), and I have in fact written forty-thousand words because I was arguing with another fan, but they don't know that so let's not tell them. I know this is how it started, I can see it in how I structured the beginning and part of what might now be called the middle beginning but was once the middle-middle leading to the end-end. Up until recently, I was still able to call this dystopian with a straight face; just, and work with me here, no one is nearly miserable enough to even like, try. I'm pretty sure at least half of them have no idea of their literary tradition; they're having drunken hookups on the eve of destruction ever lingering on the horizon, because I felt bad giving them a hangover and the end of the world, so let's delay that. You'd be surprised to know that's my least transparent excuse for not getting down to it; most recently, it was morning sex, because I just could not think of a worse thing to do to someone than epic orgasm->dismemberment. I mean that literally.

Dean's accusation that he had no sense of humor at a point very soon after they met (corporeally on Earth) had, for reasons Castiel can't explain without a great deal more self-reflection he's willing to indulge in (he is not that human and is unbearably grateful for this, daily), it did not ever entirely leave his conscious thought. Humor, he had assumed, is unfathomly complex, relativistic, and possibly (according to Host who shall not be named; all, in fact) very likely a massive design flaw that regrettably, at this late date, could not be excised. The implication this was a tragedy akin to Lucifer's fall had not gone unnoticed.

Castiel never entirely agreed.

His validation for his (at the time) utterly shocking lack of faith in the word of the Host (again, at the time) occurred far later, and in circumstances that could not have been more inappropriate, so one might even say it was inevitable that it would happen right then.

Dean is the equivalent of, in human terms, an asteroid (he doesn't think it's an invalid comparison to make this connection with the fate of dinosaurs, considering near-past events) or, from what might be considered a more celestial point of view, actually comparable to Lucifer's fall, which Dean would not in any sense appreciate, and Castiel is not an idiot.

This is not to say Dean is, in any way whatsoever like Lucifer (even starting this kind of conversation, this is precisely where it would go, horrifically), but in terms of the effect on the Host. Lucifer deliberately rebelled against Heaven, worked diligently to incite dissent, and started a war; Dean wouldn't even speak to most of the Host, hated almost all of them (technical exception: Castiel, and this could change at any given moment), and couldn't even use a sword (then; his improvement is almost unsettling, really), nor did he storm Heaven, or even have any particular understanding of its general location. He had no idea what he was doing, he did it alone and in far less time, and without the portends of natural disaster to precede him, he shook the Host's very meaning of existence to the ground.

(Castiel was not the only one to question, even if he was the only one to stay, and there is no end of satisfaction in knowing those that didn't stay will spend the rest of eternity slowly destroying themselves from doubt without the relief of ever being able to comprehend the idea of simply--and this is how Castiel knows he has spent far too much time with Dean--getting the fuck over themselves and Occam's razor the problem and *admit the existence of the question** they had effectively already asked.

Hell, and Castiel can say this with certainty, could offer them nothing more unbearable than what they insist on doing to themselves, and it will continue until the end of time itself. Forever is far shorter than that.)

It took three years, an unexpectedly cosmic rainstorm of blood that did not exclude mammals from its variety of falling objects, and the indignity of hiding beneath the remains of a dilapidated shed. Dean was slowly and insultingly asphyxiating himself because Castiel had, on their arrival, exhausted and sprinkled with animal entails from high speed impact (blessedly untyped), sat upon a toad (it was revolting). While watching blankly as Dean slapped a rather misshapen fallen rat carcass from his path so he could more conveniently, literally, roll on the ground laughing, Castiel thought, absolutely shaken to the ground, I am actually doing this.

Comparison; Lucifer would have at least pretended my company wasn't preferable only to utter solitude on any given day (and often, not even then) along with actual tangible benefits, and I was, for lack of a better term, tempted by someone who currently has a miraculously still-living frog leaping toward his open mouth and quite literally bases his attitude toward my existence on the type of pie available on various occasions, it's never out of the range of possibility that he will abruptly abandon me to be wet and alone surrounded by amphibians.

(This had happened three times out of five at this particular point in time. Castiel had used the last period of abandonment to wonder about the practicalities of a rain of blood and toads because he is aware there are many toads in the world, but this has to be decimating the population somewhere and if anyone has noticed. To continue on this theme, there is no explanation for the blood, he can calculate to fifteen decimal places how much it is taking for this rain and suffice to say, the media is still working well enough for someone, somewhere, to notice this many human exsanguinations. This cannot be a positive sign of what this planet is doing to him; do even humans ever wonder about these sorts of things?)

All of these things are either uncomfortable, unpleasant, hideous, annoying, frustrating enraging, or insulting, and very often all of these at once. Yet, here I am, and I do not want to leave.

I Fell, I am going to Fall, I am going to die eventually in a way that will probably be invented specifically to kill me slowly and horrifically and explicitly, or even more likely, in a completely new way that is invented by the most unlikely set of circumstances possible (Castiel was not feeling positive at this point, the blood was beginning to coagulate). I am wondering if there is yet a shortage of toads somewhere (and for that matter, rats may soon be endangered at this rate of acquisition and dispersement). I am wondering if the bodies that were exsanguinated are going to begin to smell terrible and be a very unpleasant surprise somewhere. I should not notice something that should be a purely rhetorical question except I do in fact want to know the answers. None of this includes existential faith issues (Dean sometimes, on occasion, seemed to live as a unpleasantly loud narrator in his mind, another sign of something cosmically amiss), and I chose this and I would choose it again; I could not possibly choose anything else.

Oh, Castiel thought, not moving from his seat on the wet remains of a toad carcass, surprised only that the very earth doesn't shake beneath the power of this revelation, cosmic, inevitable, devastating in its very implications: funny.

Castiel had almost been subjected to mouth to mouth resuscitation (in retrospect, his understanding of human sexuality would have occurred much sooner, and would have been beyond traumatizing for everyone involved if that had happened, because that could not have gone right even by accident, and that excludes the fact they were in a rain of blood, amphibians, and small mammals), but even at Dean's desperate inquiries of what the fuck, Cas?, Castiel still could not stop laughing.

Design flaw, no; humanity's answer to coping with the fabric of reality as it continued inexorably, ridiculously, around them, yes, and in a word, as it applies to Creation were it sentient (answer: this may depend on how you define sentient, and in what language, in what time period, and who is involved in the translation, point of view, and not surprisingly, Castiel suspects pie could be a factor), utter genius.

His education in the value of humor became, one might say, of extreme high priority, and proceeded with extreme rapidity.

The above was in response, I kid you not, to putting off (now permanently) a tragic misunderstanding that would--God help me--lead to the point of the story. I blame the fact there is already a two page digression in several places that describe fauna, fowl, and a short history of Mesopotamia circa 3000 BC, so I was getting desperate, and let me just remind you, this is so I will distract myself from like, forwarding the goddamn plot. I am my own ball of string right now.

Current estimate, unless I stop dragging my feet at this DIY anti-dystopia is 210,000, which is--what the fuck is that number? I can't post this. I may, however, declare it a dependent on my taxes for 2012 at this rate.

Yes, of course I'm having fun. Though I feel bad for the poor people reading this for me; I think they might be getting twitchy with wondering when the other shoe drops when I haven't even identified the type of shoe to use.

Posted at Dreamwidth: http://seperis.dreamwidth.org/932503.html. | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments

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Just keep writing it. You can beat it into submission later.

I've cut an interior design section twice now. I remove it, then I rewrite something eerily similar and pretend it's not what it is. Just. What.

Just stay with it. You're doing great. Creativity does things whatever way it needs to. All we can really do is get out of the way. There'll be a way to work it out after you get done. Trust the Force and shit!

This is a polyanna dystopia, dude. Civilization rediscovered moonshine and drunken orgies; honestly, I'd live here.

God, my life.

Just remember: It's easier to write about great blowjobs than it is to give them.

...I feel this is really profound and yet also intensely practical advice all at once.

Well, you know what Stephen King says about end-of-the-world stories always being so optimistic -- because everyone assumes they'd survive, is his stated reason, though elsewhere I've seen the point made that it's an excuse to wipe the slate clean and rebuild from the ground up the way the author would like to see things.

Just be sure to put Death in the story. I think he's criminally underused in fic.

The way this is going, Death would like, adopt orphans or plant trees...

Hey, wait a minute.

Excellent idea. Death as MOther Nature. It work!

Please ignore my inability to spell or capitalize correctly today.

While there may indeed be people worrying about falling shoes, there are also those of us who are fascinated by the hypnotic pendulum swinging of the shoelaces.

I'm not convinced it's not like, socks. Or strappy sandals, maybe.

Hey. Hey. Show me a mind incapable of appreciating the entertainment value of sock or a buckle shaped like a plastic daisy and, madam, I shall show you a savage. Who's probably wearing Keds.

Dude, Keds? That's harsh, even if painfully, depressingly true. I do pity them.

Their souls are unsupported. Like their arches.

Honestly I can't complain that you're meandering. I love this bit so much. XD

Fic worries? Hey, I've recently been mugged by the overwhelming urge to write vampire porn. Sometimes the little voices just won't shut the fuck up, and you just have to let 'em go nuts. Self-regulating system - the stronger ideas will cull the weak ones, and then it turns into a cage match. Then you get to cannibalise whatever is left standing.

You can always edit later. With an axe, if necessary.

(Man, I missed coffee.)

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