The 2×4 of Cosmic Benevolence

The stress nausea is still lingering in my corpus, but at least the meeting I was so worried about went without a hitch. Well, only with hitches I was prepared to deal with, that’s a more precise way to put it. Giving things a good whack to reset them is not my preferred method–I like being gentle–but sometimes there’s no choice.

Often, gentle kindness is mistaken for complaisance or weakness. I don’t recommend this route. It leads to the 2×4 of Cosmic Benevolence being applied, and that chunk of power has splinters.

Anyway, there have also been a few good working days in a row, though I’m technically supposed to still be in recovery. I’m as surprised as anyone. I think some energy has been freed up since my holding pattern has been rather violently upended, now that I’ve actually said something about the stress. One can’t poke a universal bear and then quibble with the timeframe of the response, so away we go. If more recovery and re-wrapping of shattered nerves is necessary, it will have to be after I *checks notes* finish these two zero drafts, get a good buildup on the next serial, and revise the second Sons of Ymre book.

I’ve been focused on Dead God’s Heart and another far more troublesome series for so long it feels weird to be considering the new serial, let alone revisions on something else. Frankly I thought the plague or rising fascism would have done me in by now, yet against all odds here I am, trying to heal what I can.

Oh, you thought I was just telling stories? But what do you think those are, hm?

I should probably update the master to-do list hanging above my desktop’s screen. There’s also a positive litter of Post-its growing like coral along the bottom. Some can probably be moved to the corkboard, others can’t be retired until Hell’s Acre is done. And there’s a subscription drop to get sorted too. I’d love to get back to having a few weeks’ worth of those scheduled out–before the pandemic I was running a good month or two ahead, but since then things have been kind of suboptimal.

Go figure.

Plus there’s walkies to accomplish. I’ve finished my coffee but not yet moved in the particular way that will summon a yawning Boxnoggin, so–oh, crud, I just heard his collar jingle. It’s the particular sound of a post-nap shake to settle the hide, and now he’s trotting down the hall.

Best get started, then. Publishing schedules are all very well, but the canine needs his daily jaunt. Running my own tired corpse is probably recommended as well; stress compounds when it can’t be purged. I can use the time and motion to figure out just what the Rook is going to do in this pub…

Off I go.

Knickers, Gnomes, and Flying Low

A little light reading.

I’m still reading LJ Smith YAs, but I’m also reading A History of Underclothes. And my gods, but most of these sound uncomfortable as all get-out. If there are underwear gnomes, they’ve had a much reduced workload in modern times. (I’m sure it hasn’t impacted profits, though.)

There are a couple sales going on, I’ll post them later today–but this morning I am flying low, no stops, no prisoners, and (as movie-Gimli says) no regurgitation. There’s so much to do, not enough time to get it done…and dear gods, I just want to write but that won’t happen until the Friday night session, I’m sure.

I wish you a pleasant weekend, my beloveds. Just gonna keep stabbing until it’s done…

Iron Key, Active Brain

A key of iron, on a stump of wood

This was my most popular Mosstodon pic lately. I can see why, it stopped me dead in my tracks while out with Boxnoggin. Intellectually I know someone doing work on the park infrastructure (or the road nearby) set it there and forgot it, or someone found it on the road and put it there so it didn’t puncture a passing tyre. But the visual glutton in me was arrested by the image, and the storyteller in me immediately began spinning tales, not just about the stranger who had placed it there for reasons I could guess at but would never know but also about a visitor from another world finding such an item, or a catastrophe striking and a survivor finding it in the wreckage, or even of the iron thing vibrating through layers of the real to become a magical key in some far-off dimension.

I amuse myself so handily it’s a wonder I need the internet at all. My brain is always like this. I’ve never in my life experienced a single moment of boredom, because the entire world is a smorgasbord and if for some reason the table is temporarily bare there’s always my inner expanses, and those never dry up. Of course, it could just mean that I’m very easily distracted, but I don’t mind. I like it that way.

The thingummy–I want to call it an eyelet, but that’s probably inaccurate–was gone by the time the dog and I wandered back through, which isn’t surprising. It was enough to see it once; the ideas remain. If I end up writing about an iron key in a few years we’ll all know why.

Can’t wait. Have a good weekend, my beloveds. (And don’t forget Friday Night Writes tonight!)

One White Goose

You have to look past the molehills…

I would apologize for the blurriness of this snap, but what you can’t see is Boxnoggin’s leash wrapped about my legs as he tries desperately to make the acquaintance of a flock of Canadian geese–and one brilliant white number. I could not tell if it was albino or a domestic Anatidae that had decided to go feral, a wild white goose of some other kind hanging out with distant cousins, or a personification of the frost we’ve been having lately.

It’s a wonder I got the photo I did, frankly. Sixty-plus pounds of enthusiastic dog would have been ever so happy to drag me over every single molehill in his quest for literal gooseflesh. He had to settle for a sonic assault, which did precisely nothing but make my head ring.

I can say that the other geese were quite protective, and huddled around their semi-cryptid (if only by comparison to its fellows) relative. But Boxnoggin and I stayed far enough away to not provoke a mass flight and all the mess that entails–since, after all, they tend to unload before takeoff, like seagulls. Which took some doing; the damn dog was utterly beside himself.

“You idiot,” I kept saying, “what would you do if you caught one?” But such considerations do not belong in Boxnoggin’s head. He is a creature of the eternal Now, and at that moment his deepest longing in life was to chase some frickin’ geese.

Unfortunately (according to him) he was dragged free of the park and we continued on walkies. There might be another flock resting there today, depending on when we get out the door; I’m not really looking forward to it even though it’ll make poor Box’s day.

Happy Friday, my beloveds. The weekend looms, I’ve got an elvish city to wreck–the attacking army has reached the walls, which is a nice change from previous days–it’s been a rather bumpy ride to get here. Oh, and I have a new subscriber tier to test out, so we’ll see how that goes.

See you next week…

Flood-Time, Back Into Joint

Working through the weekend means Monday arrives a little before one’s ready. Though I did take half Sunday off to do chores, bake bread, and get a coq au vin in the oven–which made the house smell glorious indeed. An evening on the couch listening to gamelan music and reading the back half of a Murakami novel (Kafka on the Shore, the subject of last week’s Reading with Lili and Great Chapters) was exactly what I needed, too. I hadn’t visited that particular book since 2014, and a lot of temporal water has gone under the bridge since. It’s been a recuperative experience and I’m looking forward to polishing it off entirely tonight.

But first I need to get through a full day’s work, what with the serial and Cold North revisions. The latter need the bulk of my time now, since I should turn them in before the new year.

In the “very good news indeed” column, the recuperative period for running injuries has passed and I can start building mileage again, which is a gat-damn blessing. I need those endorphins. It’s the dark half of the year and holiday strain is mounting; balancing all that out with some sweat and purging of the unpleasant stress chemicals will help me keep my footing. Plus it’s nice and grey and gloomy, so the sidewalks and road-margins are largely mine again.

Oh, there are other people out even in the worst weather. Some dog walkers, plenty of other runners, the occasional bicyclist or seven1. But the aggravations of summertime–ambling middle-aged men taking up all the space and attempting to stop me to chat about the weather, assholes with unleashed dogs making problems for everyone, Karens sashaying from one side of the space to the other while yelling into their phones–go elsewhere when the rains descend. Every year I breathe a gusty sigh of relief when the weather turns, and not just because it’s my most productive time but also because the road clears.

There’ll be a glut of new exercisers on the path just after New Year’s, slowly trickling down to those who have managed to make an actual habit somewhere near the end of March. But for now, as the year wends to its darkest point, I’m often alone while running.

And I like it.

In a few days we’ll haul out the tree and decorations. I have not been Whamageddon’d yet, but when I go for last-minute feast prep and to pick up some cheap crockery for smashing2 I run the risk. Either I’ll get to Boxing Day having won Whamageddon or Whampocalypse3, so it doesn’t matter. My writing partner and daughter are already well in the latter, and enjoying it muchly.

Speaking of Boxing Day, the Winter Portal Fantasy Sale is still ongoing. After that I’ll take a break from sales for a wee bit.

I’ve had a great deal of synchronicity lately; it seems like the universe and timeline are attempting to heal, plucking at seams and Franken-stitching stuff together. Another blessing, frankly. I don’t think I could handle much more of everything being out of joint, as it were.

The coffee is at its dregs, my office is cleaner than it was before the weekend, Boxnoggin has not yet trotted down the hall to roust me for breakfast but that will certainly happen before much longer. I suppose I must embark upon the week. It will happen whether or not my coracle is caulked, so I might as well commend my soul-craft to whatever gods look out for weary writers and push away from shore.

Here we are, my beloveds, and time floods onward. Let’s check the wind, set our sails, and get to it.

Not Liking

I would love to like.

It’s part of the online social contract, after all. If you find someone’s social media post pleasant, agreeable, or important, you’re supposed to hit that like button. It’s a duty! A fave is like a big warm hug. There’s a hierarchy–you star or fave something to show approval, or you repost it if you REALLY like/agree/think it’s important.

It’s not that I don’t want to. I would love to be able to hit that button, get that little dopamine hit, share that joy. Unfortunately, anxiety won’t let me. You see, if I hit one fave, one like, one heart, one star, the feeling of being personally unfair mounts. What if someone else I have a parasocial (or deeper) relationship with sees that fave/star/like/heart, and wonders why I didn’t like their post? Will they feel bad? Will they find it insulting? Will I inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings?

I live in dread of doing so. Ideally I wouldn’t hurt anyone at all, but we live in an imperfect world. Thus, if I hurt someone, I want it to be deliberate; I want it to be meant.

I am fully aware of the deep irrationality of this emotional pattern, and yet I cannot escape it. If I like or fave or star or heart or what-the-fuck-ever one thing, I am attacked by the deep dire feeling that I have to do so for everything crossing my feed lest someone feel left out, lest someone suffer because of my inattention. It is not physically possible for me to hit the like button so many times, and attempting to apply a hierarchy of likes to people I follow–who, it must be said, I follow because I think they’re cool, or interesting, or important, or kind, or because I have a deeper relationship with–reduces me to a quivering puddle of maybe I shouldn’t be here at all, I’ll just leave.

Can’t have that stress, it robs me of the energy to write books.

I have no problem boosting or amplifying (retweeting, back in the Twitter day). The sense that I have a platform and am responsible for lifting up things I think are fun, interesting, or important thankfully doesn’t hit the same mental/emotional reflex the like button does. I am at a loss to explain this quirk, I don’t know where the hell it comes from. I only know the guilt of betraying the online social contract by not “liking” anything is less than the panic-anxiety of hitting that button even once and running the risk of hurting someone I might care about, no matter how glancing that care may be.

I fully realize how ridiculous this is. Then again, there is a great deal of ridiculousness in and about social media; becoming a bog-witch who hikes into town every six months to send finished manuscripts out would be ideal for Yours Truly. Unfortunately, without some kind of giant deal (“movie money”, we call it chez nous) or vanishingly unlikely bestseller lottery win, it’s not feasible.

So I continue being ridiculous, and wishing I could smash that fave/heart/star/whatever button like everyone else. I try not to look at the numbers of boosts or likes or faves or whatnot. Social media is pretty much yelling into the void.

Sometimes the void answers back and that’s nice, though it’s strange to realize I’m a void too. There are a million reasons for silence. You can have yours.

This is one of mine.

Bracing For Optimism

Boxnoggin has decided to go back to bed. Apparently a Monday is too much for even his spirit, and the leftover warmth is simply too enticing. Alas, I am forced to coffee and actual consciousness–or whatever approximation of the latter I can manage.

I spent the last of the weekend finishing Rebecca Suter’s The Japanization of Modernity, all about the work of Murakami Haruki. Consequently I think this week’s Reading with Lili will be about Murakami’s fabulous (in every sense) Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, which I haven’t read in a hot minute. I was going to do Nancy Price’s Sleeping With the Enemy, but that can wait.

Price’s book got me through some rough times. I didn’t manage to see the movie until five or six years after I’d actually read it, so the two are only vaguely connected inside my head. And every time I water my African violets, certain bits of the book wander through my head.

It’s nice to have a plan–to have more things I want to share. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of cool books to talk about; it’s far more likely troll comments will make the entire project unsustainable, or the platforms I use for streaming etc. will burst into flame and sink into the swamps of corporate malfeasance.

I am also (apparently) a giant optimist this morning.

There’s work cut out for me today. Correspondence, figuring out the next step in Hell’s Acre, prepping for a big revision push–plus some copyedits–once December 1 hits, and a million other things I haven’t looked at the to-do list for. I know I’ll feel better after I get a run in, but at the moment my internal engines are catching and sputtering a bit. While I love the weather this time of year, I absolutely despise “the holidays”, and bracing myself for them is never pleasant.

The coffee has cooled, I feel like I’ve typed very little of real importance, and even though Boxnoggin loves the shelter of a warm bed he’ll be off-kilter all day if I don’t drag him out for walkies. You’d think a dog who protests so much over any deviation from routine and habit might be eager to get out the door no matter the state of the outside world. I can’t really blame him, though. I’d be back in bed if I didn’t have so much to get done today.

Or if not “done”, at least stabbed twice and left with a promise. I’d really rather be working on the bloody fanfic, but paying projects must when the devil drives, or something.

Yeah, I’ll definitely feel better after a run. Already this morning I’ve bandaged a minor injury that will make said run somewhat of a misery, but I need the sweat and endorphins too much to care. At least the laundry’s done, the plants are watered, and someone else is in charge of mopping the kitchen. Damn near a holiday, right?

Courage, my friends. I think I’m at the nadir of my detox from Twitter, and the next few days will see a marked change in both my mood and my productivity. All I have to do is stick today out; I hope your Monday will be similarly endurable.

Wish us both luck, my beloveds. Let’s get this bitch to Mount Doom.