Magical Siblinghood of Those Who

I took the weekend off-off. Completely off. I did a little revising, but mostly… I made cakes.

Yes, cakes. Plural.

We started Saturday with a nice white cake, avec whipped cream and sliced fruit. Then Sunday morning dawned, and I was ready. Next came a yellow cake with chocolate frosting (always a classic) and a red velvet cake, also undressed because really, we had whipping cream and strawberries left.

I’m getting to consider most frostings extraneous. Can’t tell whether it’s old age or just a natural evolution of my aesthetics.

In any case, we ate a lot of cake. I realized between one bite and the next I had reached that wonderful stage of I’ve had enough cake, so I got to feel what that’s like. it was almost as sudden as burnout. One moment I was fine, wanting cake like a normal regular person. Then, all of a sudden, I became one of the ones who have had enough cake. It was magical. I don’t expect it to happen again–if it takes three cakes to get there, it’s a bit labor-intensive–but I’m glad I had the experience once.

So to speak.

The kids were all in on this experiment. I’m pretty sure they hit peak cake, too, by the way nothing except slivers of the red velvet survived the night.

So, for breakfast, despite being part of a magical siblinghood of Those Who Have Had Enough Cake, I had red velvet cake with my coffee.

I mean, I wouldn’t want it to go to waste, you know?

And I’ve found out something important. Even after that magical moment when you have Had Enough Cake, your enjoyment of cake is a renewable resource. I don’t know what I would have done should that have turned out to be not so.

Kind of sends a cold shiver up the back, doesn’t it.

But we’ve dodged that bullet on a Monday, and the dogs–who could not have much cake, since there was chocolate in a majority of it–need walking. Just as soon as I finish my coffee.

And maybe just the tiniest remaining sliver.

Of… yes.

Of cake.

Happy Monday.

Inaugural Cake

The Princess baked a cake for the inauguration. She wanted to write “The horse has left the hospital” on it, but decided sprinkles would get the point across just as well.

So we spent most of Wednesday eating cake and expressing our relief in various ways. There’s a lot of work to be done, and (not but, and) we needed a moment to just take a breath.

With cake.

There might even be weekend cake, if I have the energy. Or maybe just a lot of napping. I’m finally feeling just how exhausted I truly am, and I suspect you are too. Be as gentle as you can with yourselves, my beloveds. We’re not out of the woods yet, but I think we can see the meadow.

Bit Up and Down

I started yesterday by taking the dogs out, feeding them, then returning to bed with the iPad to watch the inauguration. Balancing the electronic on my chest, I clutched a smaller electronic–my trusty phone–in my free hand and was almost too scared to glance at either.

It wasn’t until the poetry that I began to breathe again. I didn’t relax until noon EST had passed and it was official, Sunkist Stalin had no more usable nuclear codes. I can’t describe the depth of the relief and fresh pain sweeping through me. Relief because there hadn’t been an explosion of violence at the last moment, because the worst of the nightmare was finally over, because some of us have survived. Fresh pain because of all we’ve lost, the amount of work still waiting for us after the earth-scorching and looting of our public weal, and how many didn’t survive to see new hope at all.

I had meant to get some actual work done yesterday too, but… yeah, no, didn’t happen, I shouldn’t have even tried. The Princess was off work too, so both the children were home and we took the day very, very easy indeed.

I’m still on a rollercoaster of emotions. I dreaded (and thought quite likely there would be) fresh violence on MLK Day, and even more on Inauguration Day. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. I’m flat-out ecstatic upon that point, while also struggling with huge waves of feelings I couldn’t give any time or energy to for the last five or so years. They’ve burst their bonds and demand to be sorted right-bloody-now, thank you very much, while I would much rather they just kind of… vanish.

But feelings don’t vanish, especially ones shoved aside during trauma. They will lie in wait like gat-damn tigers, like Jawas looking for ships crashed in the desert, like writers searching for an unwary word. They will demand their time to be processed.

So don’t be alarmed if your own feelings are a bit up-and-down today, dearly beloveds. It’s absolutely normal. Survival was resistance, now we take stock of what we’ve lost. We’ve emerged from the crash blinking and dazed, staring at the wreckage and patting ourselves down, not quite sure whether we’re alive and/or intact. Resistance becomes the work of healing and pushing those we fought so hard to elect in the right direction, which is another variety of thankless task.

All the stuff we said “I’ll deal with that when the bleeding stops,” about is still hanging around, wanting its turn. Be gentle with yourself right now. The pounding has stopped, and we need a breath or two. Yes, there’s a lot of work; no, we’re not done yet. But we need a moment (or two) of rest in order to run (or stagger) into the future.

At least we have a future to stagger into, now. Which means I have a scene revolving between Giz, Marah, and Robb to write today. If I burst into tears a few times during the task, it’ll just mean I use a few more tissues than normal.

Before hope, write words and carry water. After hope… write words, carry water. (To coin an aphorism.)

See you around.

Less Than Twenty-Four

I’m like the Ramones, twenty-twenty-twenty-four hours to go, I wanna be sedated.

It’s another case of not wanting to hope, because it’s been years of being kicked in the teeth whenever I dared to.

I can’t settle to work. I can barely eat, sleeping was difficult–I spent most of last night in a YouTube rabbit hole full of Letterkenny and Josh Johnson. (The former is because a friend absolutely and rightfully demanded I watch it, the latter was a gift of the algorithm.) I’ve got to laugh or I’ll start screaming. The tension is awful, and made worse by burnout.

I hate not working. I hate having even hope stolen from us. I hate trembling on this knife-edge.

If you’re on tenterhooks right now, you’re not alone. That’s all the comfort I can give. I’m right there with you, my friend. Holding the line and trying to breathe.

Less than, less than, less than twenty-four hours to goooooo…

Nervousness and Fanfic

We’re at less than 48 hours until adults are in charge again, and I can’t settle. I can barely breathe for the anxiety. I’m braced for more terrible fascist violence. I expect a good hard run today will help shake some of that out, but the nervousness is going to mount until the actual event.

Quite possibly beyond, too. Already I can’t even sit still.

The dogs don’t know why I’m so nervy, of course, and I’m content to have it so. The last thing they need is politics swamping their tiny doggy brains. Still, they’re both very concerned and sticking to me like velcro, attempting to soothe whatever invisible thing is tormenting their human.

Tormenting me is their job, and they don’t like being superseded.

I was supposed to take the weekend off, and am also not allowed to work today. Burnout is awful. I want to work, not least because it’s how I escape *waves hands* All That. I might–might–be allowed to write some fanfic; the only question there is what kind.

There was a bit of a dustup on social media over the weekend about fanfic. Someone just had to get shitty over it, which is about par for the course and happens with depressing regularity. I was heartened to see everyone whose opinion I respect weighing in on the side of “Fanfic is glorious, stfu”; it let me know I’m following the right people.

You can’t get better as a writer without, well, actually writing. (And reading, but that’s–say it with me–another blog post.) Fanfic is great practice; it can be training wheels, fuel, and bowling bumpers all at once. It’s also a deep compliment to the original writer–I love your characters/world so much, I can’t let go of either.

I have strong and very definite feelings about writing–I believe in writing every day. (Burnout, of course, means only about 200 words a day on something that won’t ever be published, but it’s keeping the habit that matters.) But as for what that daily writing can be? It doesn’t matter if it’s fanfic, drabbles, original, dialogue sparks, or what-have-you.

A writer isn’t a writer without a lot of reading; it doesn’t matter what you read. It matters that you read, and likewise, it doesn’t matter what you write. It matters that you write.

It matters that you get in the habit of prioritizing your writing, that you reserve some of your daily energy for it, that you practice. It matters that you do. Writers write, it’s the nature of the beast.

Now, I’m sure a lot of people will be upset at the “write every day” thing, but you’re here on my site and I’m telling you what I think, so deal. The fact remains that fanfic is a gift, a great practice, plus it strengthens a writer’s grasp of characterization, structure, plot, timing, and craft. I suspect the “writer” of that silly thread touching all this off is just annoyed that nobody likes her characters enough to write ficlets about them.

I can’t, of course, read any fanfic of my own work, for fear of poisoning the well or possible legal ramifications. But you bet your bippy any time I’m told someone loved my stories enough to want to write in those universes, I get a deep warm feeling and can’t help but grin. I consider it a huge high compliment that the characters in my head have also made themselves at home inside someone else’s. It’s a beautiful, joyous, loving gift, even if the fanfic writer was mad at me for an ending or a character’s fate.

Love or hate of my work is fine. The job of a writer is to provoke an emotional reaction, and either is acceptable. The very worst reaction to one’s work is lukewarm boredom; I don’t even mind the hatemail or the how could you emails, because those mean I’ve done my damn job.

So. In case there was any confusion about where I stand on fanfic, let me reiterate: Fanfiction is GREAT. It’s awesome, I love it, and it makes writers better. Do it all you want. It doesn’t matter what you write, it matters only that you write.

And now I go walk the dogs, not to mention run myself ragged, and try to distract myself from dread and anxiety. And later today I’m probably going to write some Madalorian fanfic. Sure, only 200 words or so, but it’ll keep my hand in, and it’s my own personal fuck you to the idea that fanfic writers are somehow lesser creatures.

Over and out.

Autumnal Roundness

A little while ago, I was in the office, and my phone pinged. It was the Princess, texting me from the dining room, where the sliding glass doors to the deck are.

“GOOD LORD,” I yelled down the hall. “DID YOU JUST TEXT ME FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE?”

“I DIDN’T WANT YOU TO MISS THIS!” she yelled back.

That was reasonable enough. “IS IT STILL THERE?”

“YEAH. I… MUM, I THINK HE’S LOOKING AT ME.”

Well, there was only one thing I could say. “ARE YOU WEARING SHOES?”

“THE DOOR’S LOCKED.”

“THAT’S NO INDICATION OF SAFETY,” I yelled.

“YES, I’M WEARING SHOES… WAIT. OH WOW.”

I was out of my chair in a shot, pelting down the hall. By the gods, if that chonky motherfucker was coming for my baby, we were going to have words. Even if I was only in socks.

So I skidded into the dining room, finding my eldest child staring out the sliding glass doors with a bemused expression. “He almost couldn’t fit between the verticals,” she said, in tones of surpassing wonder. “That is the very definition of a big boi.”

“Almost a big chungus?” My heartrate began to drop below ‘imminent combat’, but I was still breathing a wee bit heavily. Then I looked down. “You’re not wearing shoes. Those are slippers.”

“I’m your kid,” she pointed out, practically enough. “I can kick ass in these too.”

I have rarely been so relieved, proud, and adrenaline-soaked at once.

Anyway, the squirrels are beginning to slim down from their immense autumnal roundness. They were preparing for a hard winter, I suppose, and it’s nowhere near over yet. I’m pretty sure this fellow’s going to survive, though. (Just look at those beady little eyes and those hefty hips.)

I’ve hit burnout pretty hard, beloveds. Normally I’d find some comfort in the fact that squirrels and cockroaches will survive humanity as a whole–life always finds a way, and all that. But I’ve hit the end of my ability to deal with all this bullshit, so my thoughts are tending in an entirely different direction. I’m hearing a lot of you are here with me, so at least we’re not alone.

May we find the strength to endure, as this round fuzzy bastard apparently has. It’s all I can hope for today.

Swimming, Smile

The morning has started with Boxnoggin jostling Miss B into punching Yours Truly in the mouth with her paw. Of course when I let out a short blurt of surprise and recoiled, both dogs realized their human was hurt in some fashion and scrambled to attempt aid. Which meant stepping upon my recumbent self, nose-punching me in the eye, scraping my shoulder with doggie nails, and then getting into a shoving match with each other. I had a swollen lip before I even rolled out of bed, and my eye is still watering.

This doesn’t bode well for Thursday, but maybe the day’s just getting everything out of its system early?

At least I have coffee. Some days the java just tastes better, and this is one of them.

I only got 450 or so words on HOOD‘s Season Three before dark yesterday. Once the sun went down, though, things got better and I ended up with a solid 2k+. Of course I’ll have to look today to see if any of them are good words that can be retained.

No silver lining without a cloud, naturally.

Once I get the zero of Season Three out, it’ll be time to cross that off my big to-do list and figure out the next six months’ worth of writing. Normally I juggle one serial, two trad publisher books, and one project Just For Me at a time, with small breaks for revisions, copyedits, and the like. With the loss of productivity due to pandemic, fascist coup, and related stress, I’m not sure if that’s do-able.

But if I don’t write, we don’t eat. It’s that simple. Not to mention I can’t go a day without writing at least something, or I start to feel diamond-tipped insect-feet itches under my skin.1 It’s just easier to continue pushing myself than to allow any sort of break.

It’s very… sharklike. Keep swimming so I don’t suffocate, and wear a smile.

So. Thursday is antsy, but so am I. My coffee has cooled rapidly while typing this, and the dogs are very eager for walkies. I find myself eager to get out for a run; getting rid of cortisol and other stress chemicals through sweat has been a real sanity-saver. Of course, it doesn’t balance out the stress-eating, but then again nothing’s perfect.

Except for dogs, that is. Even when they punch me in the face first thing in the morning.

All right, Thursday. We’re not going to hurt each other (any more), are we? Because I’m in a mood to lay some napalm if you get dodgy.

Over and out.