So after a lot of back-and-forthing, and desperate attempts to write a dead book even though it made me physically ill…I no longer have to write the dead book. I don’t even have to attempt it. Instead, I can work on something that doesn’t make me stress-vomit each morning.
Needless to say, this is a welcome development, and when I got off the phone with my agent yesterday after making sure this was the case, I almost collapsed. My knees haven’t been that rubbery since I heard from my lawyer that the divorce was final. Pure relief and liberation tends to knock me right over, whereas pain just makes me more stubborn. (This, I’m sure, surprises none of my regular readers.)
As a result, this morning I feel liberated. Like the prison doors have opened and I’m free. The relief is intense enough to make me a little silly. Along with more snow dumping last night and both dogs deciding to be EXTRA adorable today. They’re always super adorable, but some days Miss B puts her paws on my chest and sneezes, and Odd keeps bringing me toys in order to bribe me to get out the door for walkies, and the adorbs is turned up to eleven. Especially when Miss B rests her chin on my knee and deploys the Big Doggy Eyes of “Yes, drink your coffee, I’ll just wait here. Patiently. See how patient I am? I am REALLY patient. Just waiting for you, Mum.”
I’m excited to get to work today, which I haven’t been for a while. I’m flat-out gleeful to go into a book that won’t make me retch with stress.
But first, yes, finishing the coffee. And walkies. Before liberation, walk dog and drink coffee.
His day begins when I unzip his crate, where he is warm and secure. It is the place he loves most in the world, like the spot in front of a full bowl of kibble and The Big Hoomin’s Bed. he loves his crate so much that it takes a whole ritual to get him out of it, which includes me opening the curtains, making my bed, and finally, a couple renditions of his special Good Morning Song, which is modeled loosely on a Singing in the Rain number.
Sometimes it takes a full two renditions before he will consent to resurrect, all while Miss B takes turns trying to nose him out of the crate and trying to stick her nose in my mouth since I’m making strange monkey noises.
When he’s finally ready, he staggers down the hall after me, and has to be shown where the back door is. It’s the only time he’ll go down the stairs alone, because by then his bladder has awakened and is providing impetus.
Then there’s pointing him at his food bowl, and standing in my prescribed spot between the two dogs while they sniff the kibble offering. If I don’t stand there, Odd may decide to wander away and Miss B might try to stuff herself with both bowls and sick up undigested food which she’ll proceed to guard, since she just wants Odd not to have it. Once they’re both snout-down and busy, though, i am allowed to make myself some coffee and attempt my own brekkie. Then, when they’re done, he’ll sit by the back door and burp-bark, because he knows something comes next but has forgotten entirely what.
That “something” is his daily walkie, up to the top of the street or down to the bottom if he’s feeling frisky, which is about two days a week. Every other day it’s the shorter slog up to the top, and often, just getting the leashes on both of them is a chore in and of itself. Trundles insists on wrapping the leash around my legs to achieve a sort of required tension on it, so he knows I haven’t vanished. B, of course, divides her time between attempting to boss me and actually bossing him, with a soupçon of straining at the leash whenever there’s the prospect of another dog in the area.
And, of course, Odd stops every few steps, wondering what the hell he’s doing outside, and looks to me for guidance. Some days, like today, he requires constant verbal encouragement and direction. So, I’ve started singing–but I have to find the song he’ll move for.
Today, it was Sweet Georgia Brown.
Now, I am no chanteuse, despite being in choir all through high school and bellowing along with the radio at the slightest provocation. Passers-by often stop and watch, bemused, as I wrangle a bulldog and an Australian shepherd along with accompaniment, followed by the Mad Tortie, who goes along on Trundles’s walkies because she is of the opinion he won’t be able to find his way home alone. (I am certain she’s right.) “Is that your cat?” they ask, or “You walk them every day?”
Thankfully, none of them mention my singing.
Anyway, once I have dragged both dogs back through our gate, I can take off collar (for Odd) and harness (for Miss B) and retreat inside while both prance just inside the fence, discovering the backyard anew. Trundles takes the additional step of unburdening his colon, since the activity has aided his peristalsis wonderfully. Then, Miss B herds him up the stairs, and he trots inside, suddenly convinced that he needs another breakfast since he performed such difficult feats as making it to the stop sign.
I often make myself more coffee while Miss B tries to hip-check me in the direction of the hall, and Odd dances attendance, burp-barking again and eager to get to either another breakfast (if I can be persuaded) or to my office (which he dimly recognizes as the next step in the day’s many rituals). Finally, when I am settled in front of the glowing box that somehow produces the majority of my career (my desktop, thank you), Odd’s real morning work begins. He must settle, either in his Fancy Dog Bed or (less comfortably) up against my TBR, and embark upon the First Nap of the Day. He is settled on his fancy bed while I type this, blinking slowly, and next will come his snores, about as musical as my walk-prompting. That’s a busy morning for a bulldog, and we’re not even talking about the afternoon naps or the after-dinner romps, or what it takes to get him back in his crate at the end of the day.
No, not Beast of Wonder, which Createspace finally got off their collective bums about. (Though I am still annoyed at them fudging the release of the paperback for that novella, for Chrissake.) The book that’s trying to kill me is a different one, and the nausea each morning as I sit down and open up the file isn’t getting any better.
I mean, I’ll probably lose some weight just from sheer not-wanting-to-eat after fighting with this goddamn story, but that’s not healthy. I promised I’d try, even though I know this book is a corpse. It’s not going well, but I never did know when to quit. The promise is a chain dragging me along. Maybe I’ll wear the nausea down by stubbornly refusing to give into it.
At least, I can hope.
I’m trying to associate the book with pleasant things, but it’s an uphill battle at this point. I’m wishing I stuck to my guns and kept saying “nope, no, dead means dead, don’t ask me to do necromancy this year, not gonna do it.”
But I said it, I promised it, so…onward, I guess?
In other news, Odd Trundles had a day of horking over every surface in sight recently, but we managed to avoid outright seizures. The weather changed, I was feeling poorly, and there was a short spell with everyone out of the house, which isn’t at all usual. Those three things, with their powers combined, threw poor Odd off–and his response was retching.
So there was a lot of washing towels and bedding, and trying to point him towards a tiled surface or onto a towel when That Sound began making its way out of his capacious chest. Sadly, trying to point a bulldog in the direction you wish him to explode is a proposition akin to attempting planetary realignment. (In other words, human hands just ain’t enough.) So there are several scrubbed places on the carpeting, and the Princess is making noises about dragging the shampooer out.
I wish her luck.
A couple days of arranging Odd’s life for maximum tranquility (instead of just ordinary tranquility) have passed, and I’m beginning to relax a bit, since he hasn’t had a seizure. It’s the little victories that count, right?
Anyway, I suppose I’ve put off the morning’s heaving and typing for long enough. *puts on goggles* Cover me. I’m going in.
What is as wonderful as a dog, I ask you? Faithful, energetic, stenchful, forgiving–and of course, utterly unconcerned with such things as human manners, having their own. Not to mention gloriously happy with the smallest of joys, and full of zen-like commitment to the Now.
I rolled out of bed somewhat early this morning–part of my ongoing struggle to shake off leftover holiday depression and the resonating pain of a dead book. Lying abed playing Hay Day and obsessively checking social media does not get the words written, and it does not help. It’s warm and safe, yes, and it’s what I would prefer…but no, not helpful. The dogs are largely content with it, insofar as their bladders will allow, but they’re also excited to get up and begin a new day full of fun things and smells.
So it was brekkie for the beasts, brekkie for myself, then Odd Trundles moaning and groaning because he wanted a second breakfast. What he got instead was a walk, which displeased him mightily. He expressed his bafflement by wrapping the leash around my legs and demanding much coaxing. About halfway through a military jet roared overhead. Normally such things are to be ignored, though Miss B hates any kind of loud noise, but this time both dogs wished for me to reassure them that the growling thing in the sky would be held back by my godlike beneficence from devouring them. I coaxed, I reassured, I patted, I demanded, and we got almost to the bottom of the hill, and back up again just as it started to rain.
Then of course there was standing by the back door waiting for both of them to finish any necessary unloading spurred by the activity. Brought inside, both dogs decided the walk had not been enough exercise, despite dragging themselves exhaustedly through it, and proceeded to tear around my office yelling at each other. The growling! The nipping! The dominance mounting! It was a goddamn carnival. And of course they didn’t decide to go tearing through the house, or even down the hall, or into the Little Prince’s room directly across the hall.
No, it had to be my office.
Once they had sorted that out, there was a long session of Odd attempting to roll onto his back. Now, he is a corkscrewed, unwieldy sort, and if he ever makes it all the way onto his back he is unable to properly breathe, so there is much gulping, snorting, wriggling, and many choking noises worthy of the apogee of a particularly slasher flick. Needless to say, Miss B is convinced Odd needs supervision during this gymnastic attempt, and darts in and out nosing at him, play-bowing, barking encouragement, and just generally being an extremely loud and ineffective impediment to Odd’s goal.
Then, of course, as I was attempting to open a few browser tabs and pursue a chain of thought despite all the sonic waves assaulting my ears, they both decided I needed to adjudicate the Who Is The Best Dog face-off.
This is why I cannot have more than two dogs at a time. I only have two hands, and in order to fairly distribute skritches and encouragement I must use them both in equal measure if not equal pressure. (It’s also part of the reason I stopped at two children; one for each hand is quite enough.)
With that done, both hounds staggered away. Miss B trotted down the hall to perform one of her usual circuits–hall, living room, dining room, kitchen, hall again while nosing at bedroom doors, just to check that everything is behaving properly and staying in its proper place. Odd, of course, collapsed precisely in the middle of the office floor. Not on his fancy-schmancy dog bed, of course, No, he’s spread his toys in an arc from the bed to the heater, and settled among them to create a barrier to my leaving. He is sprawled in a puddle, taking up as much space as possible…and now, snoring with abandon. Said snoring is so familiar as to almost be silence, and a blessed relief.
And I, having arisen early like an adult, am now exhausted by the morning’s frolics, and wish only to go back to bed.
I’ve been obsessively playing Hay Day lately. It’s a very gentle game, full of feeding animals and making things. It’s a nice change from the outside world’s screaming. Of course it’s one of those freemium games, which is annoying, but since I tend to play for a few months then leave a game fallow (pun intended) for longer, I can’t complain. Much.
There’s another round of bigots and sexist crapheads trying to pull the old “but art should be apolitical” canard. *sigh* Art is made by people and is the product of choices. People and their choices are political, because politics affects what choices people have. I cannot believe this simple and elementary truth is invisible; those who want “apolitical” art just want art that agrees with the benefit they believe they get from a status quo they see as under threat. Nothing more, nothing less.
Odd Trundles has taken to dragging every toy he can find to the office dog bed, piling them, then settling atop them like Smaug on his treasure. This would be fine (although it looks damn uncomfortable) if the pile didn’t tend to settle and move just when he has reached maximum nap, startling him awake. And when Odd is startled awake, he gets loud. The frantic “oh my GOD something MOVED” borking is then echoed by Miss B, who answers from whatever part of the house she is investigating or herding, and she scrabbles into the office at full speed, baying “I’LL GET IT, I’LL HEEEEEERD IT!”
This would be mildly amusing if not for the sheer volume sending my blood pressure skyrocketing and adrenaline pouring through me. Never a dull moment around here, folks. Never, ever.
I’ve also been reading Lovecraft lately. He was racist as fuck and in many cases not a very good writer. Plenty of his work has been referenced elsewhere, so it’s like reading the Bible despite all the rape and murder and nastiness, or Shakespeare despite all the misogyny, in order to better follow the references and threads through other works. I won’t deny that every once in a while I get the urge to read something, and it won’t pass until I’ve scratched the itch bloody, like a mosquito bite. (I’m terrible with those.) Cycling through obsessions feeds the mill inside my head, and what comes out is story-powder, or something.
What Lovecraft was very good at was giving just enough information to let the reader scare themselves most effectively. Kind of like how Pennywise was terrifying until the kids found out IT was just a giant spider, or Black Phillip/the Devil in Witch manages to terrify and entice with a spur, a heel, a whisper, and the flip of a cloak. I tend to err on the side of letting the reader’s imagination fill things in, and to doubly err on the side of trusting the reader to connect dots and infer from context.
This sometimes drives my editors up the wall. One of the major struggles in edit letters is where they think I’m relying too much on the reader’s ability to connect things in context. Since the story and connections are so clear inside my head, what’s blindingly obvious to me needs a little help to become obvious for readers. This is one of the many ways a good editor saves one’s bacon.
*looks over this post* Goodness, this is a melange, isn’t it. I contain multitudes this morning. Time for more tea, or maybe a bit of yoga to get the blood flowing. I am cold and sluggish, and even the adrenaline from Odd’s treasure-mound shifts and concomitant noise isn’t keeping me at a high enough pitch.
November is upon us. I just looked up and realized as much.
I also realized that the novel I chose for NaNo has a process that is slightly uncongenial to the whole NaNo goal. *sigh* Of course, I’ve hit around 20k, so it’s time for retrenchment–going back and reading the first bit so I can see the shape of the rest lying under a blanket. Feeling around for the story’s contours is vaguely unsettling–you can’t tell what’s going to move under the sheet, or when a tentacle or cold fingers will suddenly clasp your wrist–but necessary.
So most of the wordcount today has been filling in the hills and valleys I can see from my vantage point in the story. There’s some moving bits I haven’t accounted for yet, and I want to make it more complex than this world perhaps needs to be. On the other hand, it’s the YA my agent wants, so she’ll get teenage-protagonists-dealing-with-adult-bullshit. At least it won’t be sent out on submission.
Other things that happened today: I washed a dead beetle out of my hair and Miss B tried to kill me. Apparently running on windy days will fill my mane with all sorts of crap, even when it’s braided. I may have shrieked in a less-than-dignified fashion as soon as I realized what the holy hell that knot near the ends actually was. Fir needles I can live with, dead leaves or grass, rain, that’s all fine. But I draw the line at beetles, Mother Nature.
I suppose I should be grateful it wasn’t a bee. I’d feel awful is a bee died in my hair, instead of just hitching a ride for a short while.
I did take B on my run, and she didn’t really try to kill me then. I should have known her halfhearted attempts meant only that she was saving herself up for a larger challenge. While the kettle was heating up for my second cuppa of the day, I did a little stretching–got to take care of your body, the old corpse needs flexibility, stretching’s good for you, right? Except I may have made a noise that led B to think I was dying, and she launched herself at me in an attempt to save her beloved owner.
And knocked me over. Onto the tiled floor. And stepped on me several times while trying to ascertain just what was wrong with me. I may have used some unbecoming language during that whole episode.
At least I didn’t hit my head on the oven. There’s that. And life is never boring with a hyper-charged herding canine around.
So now, sore, full of adrenaline, and with a fresh tankard of tea, I am all set for the afternoon’s games.