Finally Meme’d

It’s very warm for March, and you know what that means.

Bees.

I will be heading out to run soon, and I’m sure they’re waiting to crawl into my hair, gonna attempt to nest in my mouth, just can’t stop thinking about putting their feelers in my nose–and all while I’m trying to run.

This is entirely separate from squirrels noticing that when I take Sir Boxnoggin out for walkies or running, he’s tied to my waist and can’t do much more than lunge. Oh yeah, they’ve figured that out, the little arboreal nuisances. Just the other day we came home and a particularly sleek, rotund fellow with a bottle-brush tail zoomed across the driveway, stopping once to flick said tail in Boxnoggin’s general direction. I could swear I heard a tiny guffaw.

That was the same day the Princess informed me that the damn squirrels had been doing reconnaissance up to the front door. “They’re watching us,” she says balefully, at different points through the day. “There was one in the apple tree outside the dining room window, too.”

This does not bode well at all.

In brighter news, I took a picture of the proof copy of the Roadtrip Z omnibus yesterday.

And some fine upstanding soul popped into my feed with this work of art:

I laughed until I couldn’t breathe and the dogs were licking excitedly at my face, my phone, and whatever else they could reach, wondering what the hell.

Finally, I’ve been meme’d. What a time to be alive, my friends. I don’t even mind that today’s run will be full of bees and the dogs will probably try to drag me after a laughing squirrel.

Over and out…

Mission Creep, Squirrel Inquisition

Significant progress on a Sekrit Projekt this weekend, in between everything else–finishing up after the barrage of birthdays and houseguests, not to mention extracurricular activities, errands, and–always my favorite step–cleanup. Once again, I need a weekend to recover from my weekend, but there’s no relief in sight, just more work. It would be nice to feel like I could slow down once in a while without the risk of starving, but such is not my fate.

I love being able to work at a high, hard pace for long periods of time; I also like my infrequent fallow periods. Sometimes I wonder what will happen if, through illness or injury, I lose either.

Then I wipe away cold sweat, laugh somewhat unsteadily, and get back to work. Really, what else can one do?

At least I get to run with the dogs, and I get to sink into one project instead of spreading myself between two or three today. The Poison Prince needs more of my attention than it’s been getting, and I have a chat to accomplish between a sister and brother, both the babies of the family, marveling at how their roles have changed. Siblings are much the same the world over, but it still requires thought–and I also have a lady in waiting to get out of the palace and into trouble.

It would be nice if the world would stop burning for a little bit so I could concentrate. As it is, I have to ration my peering and peeking at certain social media. Empathy is a distinct handicap, living in these most interesting of times.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been wanting to read more romance lately. Sinking into worlds where there are happy endings, where work and virtue is rewarded and asshats punished instead of being given advantages the rest of us could only dream of…well, it’s a nice thought, and an anodyne. I have a Dostoevsky on tap, but I’m not sure I can take it without a romance or two to balance everything out. I’ve even caught myself going back to an unfinished Watcher book, wanting to tell a story I know ends relatively well instead of…well, other things.

Sure, in all my spare time, right? Maybe a slight refocusing of my work schedule is called for…

…but that’s next week’s job, when I’ve finished catching up and taking a deep breath for the rest of March. I feel like there’s been some mission creep here on the blog as well–how long since I’ve done a writing theory post, or told you another SquirrelTerror story?

Speaking of the latter, it appears the goddamn tree-rats have figured out my daughter is, well, mine, and heir to whatever invisible mark Neo and his damn crew put on me. The other day I came home from running the dogs and the Princess met me at the back door, looking somewhat puzzled.

“Uh…Mum…”

“What?” I snapped, untangling myself from leashes and pointing Miss B at the water bowls.1

“They were doing reconnaissance,” the Princess blurted. “Like, six squirrels. That I saw, at least. They were up on the porch messing with the front door, too, and a couple were on the deck at the same time.”

“You were sieged by squirrels? I mean, you are my daughter–“

“But I didn’t expect it!”

“Nobody,” I said gravely, “expects the Squirrel Inquisition.”

She gave me a look I can only classify as irritated and deployed an eye-roll that showed she is, still, much closer to her teenage years than I. “Go ahead and laugh.” She heaved a mother-worthy sigh at her gentle dam. “I sound like you.”

“A fate worse than death, I’m sure.” I grabbed my own water bottle and headed to the kitchen, expecting that to be that.

Perhaps my daughter was wiser, because she spent a little while watching the deck with anxious folded arms. She sensed something coming, and she was right…

…but that’s (say it with me) another blog post.

Mental Mustelidae

The headweasels are particularly bad this morning. Back and forth they go, treating my skull like a flimsy cage. I’d love to let them out–fly, be free, never come back–but they’re stuck inside a bone bowl. There’s nothing to be done about it.

They’re independent of how many books I write or how much my children love me, independent of how much sleep I got last night or how hard I strive to be good and do good. “Do no harm and take no shit” is my mantra; why should I take shit from ghosts of people who hated and tried their best to kill or maim Child-Me?

And yet.

Meds don’t answer the head weasels, though meds can send them into protracted hibernation or blunt their sharp, tiny teeth. Proper pharmacology makes it easier to see the headweasels in their correct proportions, as distorted reflections not of the world, but of what we fear the world might be.

It’s already terrible enough out there, one doesn’t need to make it worse. Even though there’s a certain amount of frantic quasi-safety and illusionary control in imagining the worst so vividly that whatever actually happens looks like a relief. It’s still shitty, but it could be so much shittier really isn’t a healthy way to live your life, though. The wear and tear on your nerves about absolutely imaginary shittiness takes up time and energy one could be using to fight real ordure.

I should run. Make some tea. Lose myself in work for a while. I dread ending up tired, sweaty, and hammering at a book that will never sell because it’s too dark, too complex, too dangerous, too grim. Or not dark, complex, dangerous, and grim enough.

See? Headweasels, whispering in the corners, padding around the skull’s shadowed nooks, pressing their claws against the soft folds of a vulnerable brain.

The weasels just don’t seem to understand if I go down, they go down with me. They’re still determined to crash this fleshly bus into the nearest abutment at high speed. They’re not even good villains, as such things go. They’re just…balls of anxiety, with sleek fur, red eyes, and needle claws. Short-sighted, poo-flinging, nasty-tempered little idiots without even a cat’s gracefulness or (abstract and imperfectly applied) loyalty.

So I hunker down. I endure the brainweasels. I let them play and do my work while they try to bleed off precious energy. I use every strategy the therapist gave me and a few I picked up on my own. I write about the weasels to perform an old variety of sorcery: naming my enemy so I may gain power over it.

They’re uncomfortable, yes. But they’re just…thoughts. I know the power of a thought, and I know what a thought isn’t. It takes hard work over a long duration to turn small thoughts into reality, and while I’m not in charge of the thieving little mental mustelidae I am in charge of my hard work and effort. I’m the spaceship the weasels are loose in, and I can open the doors and fling us all into space at any moment.

New ones will generate if I somehow get my hands on the old, I’m sure. But I am the life support system, and I am the one living this life, and I am the one who will steer on down the highway, grimacing and pained but still in charge.

First on the agenda is a run to bring my mood back into line. Then it’s tea, and work. The weasels will scream or whisper, threaten or cajole, blandish or brandish, but I remain unmoved.

Or at least, I’m going to pretend to be unmoved, and go about my day. Good luck, everyone.

Let’s hope it works.

Birthday Month Snowpocalypse

Of course yesterday–the day I had to spend mostly outside the house–was the day it decided to snow. It didn’t accumulate, thank goodness, but the roads got super sloppy and everyone piloting a car was stressed out and consequently a bit wavering. On the bright side, I got through the grocer’s between waves of “OMG WE’RE ALL GOING TO SNOWPOCALYPSE DIIIIIIE” people, and noticed only that the bottled water had been pillaged. There was still plenty of dairy.

Today I can rest a bit. But only a bit, since I have to perform yet more Birthday Month-related things. I also have a run to get in; the dogs need their fidgets worked hard. They get stressed during any excitement; Mum leaving a houseful of guests in their care for hours at a time (well, the Princess was home and entertaining, so the dogs weren’t entirely on their own while performing supervisory duties) has made them Nervous.

I should get out the door if that’s what I’m planning. I was allowed a bit of a lie-in this morning, thankfully dog-free since the Princess came in, set a cup of coffee on my nightstand, and dragged both canines out. For no reason at all, she said, except she thought I’d like it.

I have good kids.

If I can just get through next week, the birthday month craziness should die down and I’ll get a chance to breathe. That will be a lovely change, and I’ll relish it.

The enforced rest has done some good–I’ve been getting research reading in, and that always deepens the worlds I play with. I’m only getting bare wordcount, 200-400 words a day, since most of my energy’s going elsewhere. I get itchy and tetchy when I don’t write, but at least 200 words is a prophylactic measure. I’m only slightly annoyed with the world as a result.

So today is for running, listening to kulning (a new obsession) and being grateful to my Past Self for scheduling subscription stuff so I don’t get home today and have to engage in a scramble to get that done. Hallelujah and thanks, Past Self! I’ve almost forgiven you for that “[[put sex scene here]]” you pulled last week.

Almost

What We Want

“But what if they don’t get along?” I worried, over and over. “Yes, I know Miss B chose Boxnoggin at the shelter from a range of contenders, but what if they don’t bond?”

Reader, I worried for nothing, as this fuzzy (in more than one way) photo confirms. I came around the corner, disturbing their snoozing, and was treated to a double ration of “Why did you disturb us, traveler?”

I mean, I shouldn’t have doubted in the first place. Miss B always knows what she wants–unless she’s faced with the choice of herding cats or squirrels, and even then her answer is a resounding “BOTH!”

May both you and I know exactly what we want today, and go after it with all the speed of Miss B herding or Boxnoggin running for the simple joy of it.

Spark, Work, Spark Again

2.5K on HOOD’s Season One yesterday. All in revision, which would bother me–except I’m getting ready for the huge push to get the zero out. Then I can switch to The Poison Prince and get that skeleton all arranged and padded. It lingers in my reveries like to a step-dame or a dowager, long withering out a young man’s revenue.

Not that it’s a bad thing, I’m just dreading it because by the time it’s over it’ll be another 200K that I have to trudge through CEs for, probably at short notice since it’s always a case of festina lente. If a publisher paid me enough to be my only client I wouldn’t mind so much, but none of them do anymore and as a result, I do mind and I will not be harried into working weekends when salaried employees don’t.

Well, I will work weekends, but only for me, myself, and I. That’s the only client paying me enough, frankly.

In any case, I am in that twitching, raw space where I want to get this done and move on to the next project. The instant I finish The Bloody Thone–number three in the epic fantasy trilogy–I am going to feel so. damn. liberated. The only problem is that there’s proofs on Book 1, then the whole process on Books 2 & 3, to get through.

I shouldn’t complain. I wanted to stretch my wings and write something different. And I love several parts of this series. There are just…behind the scenes issues dragging at my fingers while I type, which is my very least favorite way of writing. You’d think, after a decade and a half in the business, that some people would assume I know what I’m doing.

Anyway, I am sparking with low-level irritation and the desire to get things done. If I can manage to get to the end of revisions today I’ll be set up for the run for the finish, which will include Marah’s Race and some domestic terrorism for spice, as well as a giant arms heist and the ending stinger–because upping the stakes with King Richard’s return is good narrative fuel. Friar Tuck needs more screen time, he’s the moving part I care least about but that doesn’t mean I’ll spend less time polishing and crafting him or his story.

Well, that’s the work before me. It’s a sunny Tuesday with snow clinging in the corners, bright, inexorable, and dangerous. The dogs wish for a run, but taking their tender paws out onto ice (not to mention the risk of falling myself) isn’t cricket at all.

So it’s upward and inward, and all those things I’d fiddle with to procrastinate have been folded away and put to bed. Nothing before me but the task I must accomplish…

…and there’s some shortbread dough in the fridge, of course, but that’s neither here nor there. One needs something to look forward to in order to work most effectively, right?

Right?