Promised Better

Chop wood, carry water.

Yesterday was awful, from the meta (news cycle) to the micro (personal). Even space werewolves didn’t help; I finally threw up my hands and retreated to bed and unconsciousness.

It did me a load of good, even if I did wake up with a Sheryl Crow song playing at top volume inside my head. I made the mistake of looking at the news again, and now I’m at my desk, with coffee, and despairing. Pretty sure the space werewolves aren’t going to be able to help today, either. Crawling back between the covers and attempting some kind of escape sounds amazing, but I don’t have the luxury of stopping. There are things to do today, and work has to go on despite how I feel.

I wouldn’t be so upset if I hadn’t spent literal decades warning everyone I could, but you know that. I feel like a broken record, even more than usual.

So I’ve fed the dog, made coffee, cued up Tuesday Night Music Club, and thanked the stars we’re not suffering a heat wave at the moment. When I’m done with this post I’ll try to eat something, then walk Boxnoggin–he’s not yet attempting to nose me out the door, probably because I’m not even halfway through my caffeine yet and he knows better than to try any bullshit until I’ve at least gotten a few more molecules of go-juice into my bloodstream–and run, then clean up and start the day’s work.

Chop wood, carry water. It could be worse, Sheryl Crow sings. I could have missed my calling. At least there’s the writing. July is right around the corner, and that means I’ll have to shelve the silly space werewolves in favor of the second Tolkien Werewolves book, and use any leftover time to keep chipping at the second Sons of Ymre. I’m sure as soon as I get a good head of steam on any project some kind of edits will land, and then I’ll have to deal with that. Publishing is a giant frustrating merry-go-round of festina lente at the best of times, and this is certainly nowhere near the best.

I was promised a better apocalypse, dammit. I was promised a meteor, winged battle, a giant dragon and a Whore of Babylon. I was promised something more dramatic and satisfying than a bunch of rich, petty, hate-filled bigots killing the rest of us despite decades’ worth of warning, with a still-raging pandemic on top. I’d demand a refund, but of whom? I did everything I could, we’re still fucked, story of my life.

So here we are on the last day of June. I keep working while the ship sinks, waiting for the inevitable. I don’t know what else to say, my beloveds. It’s all I can do to keep breathing.

Chop wood. Carry water.

Keep writing.

Blooming, Despite This

A finicky flower.

I was watering houseplants the other day, and remarked that all the African violets are blooming. My daughter looked up from her Switch, and observed that of course the plant I have most of is the finicky type that needs special pots and trimming when they get too lanky and and and. I rejoined a little defensively that they are actually quite easy to take care of, and anyway I can’t leave plants on a clearance or “distressed” rack because they just scream and cry to be taken home and nursed…

…and both of us broke down laughing, because I am a sucker and I know it.

I am allowing myself only a little bit more doomscrolling while I finish my coffee (yes, I saw the news before any caffeine, no, it was not pleasant) and then I may have to just…turn the wireless router off. I simply cannot even right now. I wrote a whole fucking book about this and nobody listened. I feel sick, and hopeless, and afraid.

…yeah, I just can’t. I just cannot.

See you later.

Worlds and Vessels

Woke up with a great silence inside my chest instead of pain. I think it’s emotional exhaustion; I would worry over it, but I can’t scrape up the wherewithal.

Boxnoggin is adjusting to becoming the only canine in the house. He seems to like it more than Bailey ever did. I’m watching carefully, but there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong. Certainly it’s a rather large change and he’s no longer being directed by a bossy Aussie with far more mental horsepower than he could ever dream of–Box is very loving, and sometimes cunning when chasing a squirrel, but otherwise his brain is two wet sticks, occasionally finding each other long enough to rub together and produce a thin curl of smoke. It’s not a bad thing, he certainly doesn’t seem to feel any lack.

It’s just…different. He likes the longer walks, he eats with gusto, he does his best to remind his humans of the more important things in life, like chest-rubs and toy games. He cuddles up to me at night and won’t let me out of bed in the morning without some solid cuddle-time, either. It helps both of us, I think.

I’ve got to get back to work. A skeleton-scene in Hell’s Acre was done yesterday, but it needs something, I’m just not quite sure what. I know what the point of the scene is–the overt antagonist is both fishing for information on the heroine and also looking to rub another character’s nose in some rather ugly personal history, while said other character’s aim is to unsettle and irritate the overt antagonist enough that he doesn’t clue into the fact that the heroine is, in fact, not merely a penniless schoolteacher from Gaul with an uncanny resemblance to a certain long-dead lady. So there are competing agendas here, and the scene needs another whack to get the dialogue settled, the exposition trimmed, and the bloody plot advanced.

Not only that, but a hundred pages of line edits were merrily taken care of. Startlingly, the books undergoing this last pass before CEs are…not terrible? The last time I sent them in to the editor I devoutly hoped never to see them again, but they’re not so bad as all that. In fact, one could say they’re rather…well, they seem good, which is a distinct relief. This is part of the process when bringing a book to publication. It’s a relief on the one hand–feeling that one’s work is stupid, useless, and janky after one’s gone through several editing passes is awful even though I know it always happens, it’s just a phase–but also sad, because it means the book is moving away from being one of my own private worlds, going out to become part of others’. There’s almost a mourning in it, though I know that in the end, when the book is out and I pick it up years later in order to refresh my memory or chase down a particular reference, I will find out that plenty of it remains entirely private and personal. There’s so, so much Readers never see–they only get the part of the iceberg that shows above the waterline. The rest, the vast mass underneath, is all mine, always.

So while I’m numb I can get some work done, though I have to push relatively hard to get through the internal static. Everything takes thrice as long when I’m in this state, because I have to be very careful I don’t just throw up my hands and say, “Fuck it, good enough.” That would be a disservice to Readers, let alone to the work itself. At least while I’m in another world I’m not thinking about the pain and mess in this one. Certainly it echoes, and those other worlds are crucial vessels for transmuting said mess and pain into other things, but I get a break from the suffering. A momentary escape.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Tolkien’s assertion that it’s our duty to escape reality sometimes, and to take others with us. As a writer I’m unable to look away, and I’m also unable to stop transforming the world I see, at least in fiction. Between those two paradoxical poles is the balance any creative has to keep.

Like riding a bike. The knowledge never goes away, echoing in the body, but it’s also a gate to memory. A gate one is shoved ruthlessly through when one climbs aboard, naturally.

In any case the coffee is finished, brekkie needs to be scorched and consumed, and there’s walkies as well as a run to drag myself through. Then I can slither into the work for a while and find some relief. That will be nice.

Let’s hope Tuesday behaves rather as Monday did, for once. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but…here we are.

Onward and inward, I suppose. Excelsior, and all that.

Flood Stage, Numb

Woke up to find out some Reply Guys had found my massive thread1 on watching the Netflix documentary about Warren Jeffs and the FLDS. I really shouldn’t check social media before coffee; my patience for mansplainers, sealions, and red herrings is at an all-time low before caffeine works through my tissues.

Of course, it’s never really high to begin with, so…yeah. I used to respond patiently when I responded at all, but to hell with that. If you’re going to ask me for emotional labor or try to roll a barrel of bad-faith bullshit, you’re going to get ignored OR get the unfiltered response you deserve.

The rain has slacked off a bit, and the river is at flood stage. I think the numbness of grief has passed, and now I’m tetchy. The fact that I have to get back to bloody work doesn’t help. I mean, work is the only thing that’s going to save me, and it’s the only thing making me feel better now…and yet.

And yet.

I have those bloody line edits to get underway–I’m glad I asked for the extra time, good job, Past Lili–and Hell’s Acre needs a great deal of attention, loving or otherwise. The board is set and the pieces are moving there, and today I have to write Rexton (the overt antagonist) visiting the Greatfather of Taurrock. Neither of them are going to be happy with the result of that visit, I think. Of course I could not care less what Rexton feels, but the Greatfather is a tragic case.

Before that, though, there’s walkies and a run to get through, not to mention finishing the damn coffee. On the bright side, my cinnamon tea should arrive today, and depending on when it does I might be able to have a cuppa and see if I like it. And I spent most of yesterday doing housework and reading Way of the House Husband. It’s rare that I like an anime as much as I like a manga, or vice versa, but in this case I find both utterly charming. I can’t wait for Volume 8.

Oh, and Friday’s Tea with Lili is up on YouTube; it’s about hating your heroes and the duty to escape. I’m getting a flood of questions about the Valentine series lately, so I might answer some of those in the next tea. We’ll see.

…I suppose I should bloody well get on with it. The line edits won’t do themselves, more’s the pity, and I need to work ahead on the serial a bit in order to be comfortable. I would like to do a bit more in the Space Werewolves story, but at this point it’s procrastination instead of actual work and I’ve got to Be Responsible. (Bother.) Which means I shall bring this to a close, bolt the last remaining swallow of coffee, and get some bread in the toaster since running on an empty stomach isn’t allowed any more.

As it gets older, the body takes its vengeance. Poor thing, it’s had enough of my hijinks.

Happy Monday, everyone. May we all get through intact. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for…

A Smaller Sun

The name’s Ra. Ra Nunculus.

I woke up sick with dread, literally nauseous with anticipating yet more bullshit today.

Hyperempathy is a great tool for writing characters. It’s far less great while living under late-stage capitalism in a failing state run by sociopaths and those who collude with them. The worst part of this is a repeat of the exact hopelessness I used to feel as a child trapped in an abusive household. The people hurting me enjoyed my pain and weren’t going to stop. I was encouraged–by school, by television, by songs–to attempt saving myself. I was told I could and should tell teachers or other “authority figures” and the abuse would stop. That it was my duty to say something.

So I did. And nothing happened, except “being sent home to be beaten again because I’d dared to say something.”

The very worst part about this is twofold. The people we voted in at great cost to stop the bloodshed and agony have done and will do nothing except empty posturing to please the sociopaths we hired them to stop. And I have screamed myself hoarse, warning everyone I can as I am told it is my duty to do…and I’ve been mocked, belittled, and outright ignored. You’re overreacting, you’re too emotional, typical female, whatta librul, shut up or I’ll hit you again.

Four and a half decades of being kicked in the teeth when one tries to do something about injustice, about pain, about the rancid hatemongers who are abusing all of us, wears on one. I’m tired. So, so tired.

At least the dogs are reasonable. At least the trees are kind, and the buttercups and daisies do not hurt me. The smaller suns–waxy yellow ranunculus, the dot in the center of a bellis blossom–warm me, whispering in their tiny voices, concerned only with enough light, enough water, enough dark to rest in. Kindness is the lowest and simplest energy state.

I don’t know what to do. All I feel is dread and weary revulsion. The world is so beautiful, yet there is a slice of humanity that will not stop until they have violated, stabbed, broken, and shat upon every piece of it. And the rest of us, who outnumber them by orders of magnitude, will apparently do…nothing, even as the entire planet cries out in pain. No one is coming to save us, and apparently the vast mass will not bestir to save themselves, and will even savagely maul those who attempt to do the bare minimum of describing and warning of the problem.

I’m enduring, I suppose. I have to believe that telling stories, even the ones that are ignored, is important. I have to somehow believe that providing single, solitary people a few hours’ worth of relief from the mass of violence and hatred is important, because it’s all I can do.

It’s all I’ve ever been able to do.

I don’t want this. I never wanted this. Walking into the forest–or the sea–and never coming back would be preferable to this. I am trapped here, and must endure as best I can, continue working as long as I can. But oh, please, dear gods, I am so tired.

And I feel nothing–nothing–but the world’s pain.

Pain and deep, nauseated dread.

That’s all.

From Roof to Dementia

So I’ve been fighting with the mortgage company, which decided to insert itself into the claims process–remember that freak snowstorm that damaged the roof, the deck, and our fences? Well, the insurance company won’t pay out what’s required (they are not good neighbors, let’s leave it at that) but they did pay out enough to defray the cost of a new roof, so that’s what we’re doing.

The fences and deck, well, they’ll have to wait their turn. We could already have the roof repaired if not for the sodding mortgage company. It’s taken six phone calls–four of which “customer service” or the phone tree hung up on–over the last two days to politely but firmly insist they get their asses together. I’ve been dealing with bureaucratic phone trees and judo-ing institutions ever since I knew phones existed, so this is simply annoying, but the very last bit threatens to fill me with actual anger.

The check they insisted they had to endorse as well? They’re attempting to send it back first-class. No tracking number, no insurance, nothing. Not only does this company try to nickel, dime, and squeeze “service fees” and everything else out of those unfortunate enough to have their mortgages acquired (without our consent, I might add), I have the sneaking suspicion they’re going to try to “lose” the insurance payout check. It’s as if they want to delay repairs until properties becomes uninhabitable, likely so they can scoop up said properties on the cheap and resell them at a huge profit.

I am THISCLOSE to publicly naming and shaming this institution. I don’t have much, if any, social media clout, but by the gods sometimes I’m tempted to use what little I have to teach nasty bullies and scammers the error of their ways.

Anyway. The news at large has also been dreadful, I have been unable to work with all the rest of this going on, and May is also historically a terrible month for me. I’m almost at the point of considering all this absurd and breaking down into screechy laughter, which will be terrifying for anyone in the vicinity but will also mean I’m focusing on the absurdity of suffering life under these conditions instead of the pain I’m witnessing daily.

On the other hand, I’ve gulped and put that damn werelion book up for preorder. Come June 1 it will be taken down from the serial platform, and my plan is to get the bloody thing out in September, though I’ve given myself all of October as well. It’s always better to be able to release a preorder early than to ask for more time to complete it; a padded schedule is just good practice. The book might be terrible, but it’s not unfinished, a few serial readers and beta readers have told me it was just what they needed, and I have to believe that even amid All This the world needs a few stories to just forget about the rest of the nonsense with.

I tell others “trust the work”, and I suppose it’s only fair life arranges things so I’m forced to do so as well. (What? You mean I have to take my own advice? Who came up with that rule?)

At least I’m beginning to see the funny side. Not of the news cycle–there is nothing funny about the cavalcade of horrors we’re forced to endure under late-stage capitalism and its attendant racism and misogyny. But my own particular fight with windmills does have its hilarious bits. My stubbornness has been engaged, and if you’ve hung around here for any length of time at all, you know that’s a recipe for mordant wit and sarcastic disaster.

So today is a toss-up between writing the space-werewolf-pro-wrestler erotica, or finishing formatting a certain other book. I have to believe that telling even my weird little stories has some value, that providing a few hours’ worth of relief for my readers can somehow ameliorate the pain. I have to believe it, otherwise…well, let’s not talk about otherwise.

But dear gods, it’s difficult.

At least this is not the week I lose Miss B. The time is fast approaching, but I have a few more days to spend with her. That’s a bright spot even if her doggie dementia is rapidly getting worse. She gets anxious if she “loses” me in the house, though she does accept Boxnoggin as somewhat of a substitute when I have to go for a run or a quick shopping trip. Fortunately, she doesn’t get violent at all, just confuzzled and attempting-to-herd, and Boxnoggin doesn’t mind her bossing him about. He treats it like play, and wears her out until they collapse in a puppy-heap.

When she chose him as a companion, she chose very well indeed.

So that’s the state of the Lili this Thursday, my beloveds. I hope your day is much more peaceful; barring that, I hope you can see the absurd side. It’s better than screaming, I guess. (If it’s not…well, don’t tell me.)

Over and out.

Non-Sleep, Reflecting Light

I can’t blame the eclipse, or anything other than the chewing of my brain on itself, for last night’s lack of sleep. Sam Phillips’s Reflecting Light was playing nonstop inside my skull while bits of stories cascaded around, some merging, others breaking apart. Sometimes that happens; the leaves fall in a thick blanket, ready to drift against tree-roots and nourish other saplings.

At least my spine crack-popped every time I rolled over, so my back feels a lot better. Something must have loosened up, and it’s about damn time.

It’s a bright morning, outright sunny in patches, with a damp spring wind. We’re almost to the time of year when a few open windows provide all the climate control the inside of the house needs. Which means Boxnoggin will be beside himself with glee, keeping track of every stray noise and breeze, trotting down the hall to inform me of every change in the neighborhood, leading me out into the living room to witness whatever’s happening in the street.

I think it’s also how he ensures I get enough breaks during the working day. Boxnoggin is an inveterate believer in stopping to smell the roses. And the bushes. And the pavement. And everything else.

Revisions on Klemp’s book (the second Ghost Squad novel) are still underway. I still have no real title for it, but that’s a quandary that doesn’t need solving until later. I want to title it Duty but I don’t want the rest of the series locked into D-words. (Of course, Jackson’s book could be titled Douchebag because he’s a little…problematic. But problematic heroes are fun!) I might just end up titling it what it wants and breaking convention with Tax’s book, which comes next–but I don’t have to write that until I’ve finished the second Sons of Ymre.

No shortage of work, which is of course how I like it.

A thin, trembling calm has descended upon me. Maybe it’s pulling back from social media, maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s building my running mileage back up after bad weather and injury kept me a little more housebound than I’d like. Whatever’s responsible, I don’t care. I’m too busy using the breathing space. And Miss B is still holding steady, though every day I wonder if the inevitable slide downhill will begin again.

She’s eager for walkies, and if I run my own weary corpse today there’s a higher chance of actual sleep tonight. Maybe it’s the weather change keeping me from crawling into sleep’s deep country. Maybe I don’t want to miss out on what time I have left with Miss B. Maybe it’s hormones, or stress. Regardless, I absolutely will not go back to insomnia. Driving myself into the ground has always worked before, so that’s the order of the day. An immense amount of work cries out to be done, and I’m just the mad writer to do it.

At least it’s not still Monday. Yesterday felt bloody endless. A fresh new day with a whole new set of mistakes to make looms.

I suppose I’d best get started.