Kindness, Escape

Spent the weekend doing revisions as well as reformatting ebooks and the like; most of those changes should be wending their way downstream. New editions are always a chance to catch the things that didn’t get chased down and thumped before. Even with a million pairs of eyes during the publication process, some stuff slips through. It’s inevitable.

What I did not do was rest. Today it’s back to solely revising the third epic fantasy; all my engines are focused on that. The second year of lockdown is about to start and my ability to focus and push under pressure is beginning to fray at the edges.

Once that’s done it’s on to revising HOOD‘s third season, preparatory to the editing process. I still have to make a final determination on the next serial–it will either be Hell’s Acre, the alt-Victorian trilogy, or Division Seven, the mutant secret agents story. I’m leaning towards Hell’s Acre because I like the language, and I’m not wanting to engage with current-day stuff right now.

I need an escape.

I think we could all do with an escape or two, frankly. I just want to crawl into my stories and never come out. I’m sick of utterly avoidable disasters and broken promises, hatefulness and cruelty. It’s the last that gets to me.

It takes so little effort to be kind. Kindness is the natural state, it’s the lowest energy requirement. It puzzles me: Why do so many people actively choose to stew in violent hate, why do they seek out reasons to be shitty? Why, when it’s so easy to just… not? Imagine what humanity could do if dickwads quit wasting their energy on spewing vileness.

I write because I must, but sometimes I think I also write to try and answer why people do some things. Pouring myself into certain characters’ skins, even if it isn’t on the page–because I have to understand the villains to see how they’re going to act in the story–is an effort to understand.

The dogs are very clingy this morning. I think they can sense my nerves are raw. Or maybe they just want their walkies, since it’s a relatively warm morning. A week ago we were in snowpocalypse (I think? Time has lost all meaning.) and now it’s very mild in the high 40s (Fahrenheit, of course) with crocuses and the like taking advantage of the sudden balm.

Maybe the snow was the last gauntlet to run. It would be nice to have an end to something. Normally I enjoy winter; normally it’s my most productive time. Lately though, I feel like I’ve done nothing for the last winter except sit and stare in deepening horror. I know that isn’t true, but it feels like it.

I’ve blathered long enough. Time to get the dogs walked, my own reluctant corpse run, and then to crawl into the end of a hot, murderous summer in an imaginary land. Getting the third and final book arranged will do me some good, I hope.

Happy Monday, everyone. We made it to another week, yay us. Now let’s see if we can endure through.

Over and out.

On Privacy, and Cleaning

The snow is mostly gone, which means (according to the dogs) that everything is back to normal and they have forgotten there were even snow days at all. Consequently, the trace of white lingering in the backyard represents a Change and thus something Boxnoggin has to bark at. The humans must be alerted to Change, because Change is Bad.

At least they got a long ramble yesterday, so as far as they’re concerned, everything is swell.

I am engaged upon two projects at the moment–a revise of the third book in an epic fantasy series, and some digital housekeeping. Pandemic lockdown’s been going on for over a year now; I’ve largely adapted to video calls and the like. The lockdown adjustment period was a marvel of people reaching out, pulling together, and caring for each other–which is, don’t get me wrong, still going on and is wonderful beyond measure.

It was also a helluva gift for predators of varying kinds, taking advantage of the open doors and grace. Which is fine–I’d rather help those who need it despite the risk. Yet now with things settling1 I have hit the wall, and am taking a good hard look at some of the things I’ve allowed into my space(s).

It used to be I would just let things go, smile and nod and Put Up With It until I reached a breaking point, grabbed my katana, and cut a problem right in half. Which solves a great many things but also baffles onlookers, because up until that point I am flexible as a contortionist and accommodating as all get-out. I’ve been attempting to alter that pattern, because the fallout takes up a lot of time I could otherwise spend on pleasant things.2

And sometimes it’s not even a predator. Sometimes–and this is something you’re never supposed to admit, as a woman–there are people one just doesn’t like. And that’s perfectly okay! Heaven knows there are people I just rub the wrong way.3 With nine billion of us on the planet, it’s ridiculous to expect to like or be liked by everyone. Deciding not to spend time with someone you dislike doesn’t make you a bad person–far from. It can, in fact, free you up to spend time with those you do like.

Now, there are people one dislikes that one has to be professional with for the sake of getting along, or even just having a reasonably calm time at one’s job. That’s not what I’m on about here. I’m talking purely personally, which gets a little strange since I’m partly a public personality, what with social media giving access to creators in unprecedented ways. I’m endlessly glad I’ve had only middling success and am not famous, which just douses this particular dynamic with jet fuel and lights a match.

That doesn’t mean I don’t get creeps, or stalkers, or people who want to be published and think feigning friendship is the way to get there, or even just the lonely. My natural inclination to be as kind as possible has been weaponized against me before, and that’s left a mark. Plus, I don’t take vacations or days off, really. The nature of the work–being basically a freelancer supporting an entire household–means no time for it, and very little time for keeping up with the telly or even streaming the New Hot HBO-or-Whatever Series. So the people who want access to me for, let’s say, non-friendly reasons tend to get sorted out pretty quickly, and I’m vigilant.

Sometimes they work their way in, though, especially when the digital “doors” open up because there’s a catastrophe and I’m actively seeking to be as kind as possible to as many as possible. I realized lately that I’d been avoiding certain places where I used to find a lot of solace and support because of this dynamic, and I don’t like it.

Which means it’s time for cleaning. It’s spring, might as well. I did a whole thread yesterday about the struggle of leaving behind people you care about in a space that no longer feels safe, and how it’s okay to protect yourself. It’s advice I wish I would have had when younger. This sort of cleaning is a difficult, painful process, not least because one naturally wants to accomplish it without hurting or harming the innocent, so to speak. For me, it’s best accomplished slowly, in patient stages, and well before I reach the katana phase.

Being a public person means one is going to get a certain amount of creep swirling around one’s mentions, comments, and the like. It’s a hazard of the job, but one doesn’t have to deal with it everywhere. It’s perfectly natural and reasonable to keep some spaces private; the world is not owed access to every single moment of your day, despite the inevitable pressure to open up for it. And if your decision to keep some parts private gets you yelled at by Certain People, that says more about them than it does about you.

By their works shall ye know them, and all that. Plus, if we’re dispensing homilies, those who mind that you’re keeping some spaces private don’t matter, and those who matter won’t mind.

Now it’s time to ramble the dogs, for the snow is gone and they are eager to be back to our regular schedule. I also get a run today, since the melt has been accomplished to the point where I’m fairly sure I won’t slip and break my fool neck while attempting warp speed on icy pavement. I’m nervy and anxious to get out the door, but before I go, I’d just like to reiterate: It’s okay to keep some things private, or to put up the walls and declare some parts of your self not-for-sharing. It’s also okay to leave a space where you no longer feel safe; like the airplane disaster videos say, you must first adjust your own mask before helping anyone else with theirs.

This is difficult as all get-out, and should you find it overwhelming you’re not alone. It’s a hard thing, and it takes time.

But you–yes, you reading this–are worth it. And (though I often forget as much) so am I.

Over and out.

Pleased By Nothing

No snow yet. Not that I’m quite upset over it, mind–I know it’s a massive hassle to most people, it’s dangerous though pretty, and our part of the world is better off without it.

But I am a little selfishly disappointed. Ah well.

Nothing pleases me today. I am resentful of anything pulling me away from The Cold North, even though most of it is the unavoidable business of living–showers, eating, caring for those under my aegis. The rest of it is work that really does need to be done for other books, proofs and revisions and the like, oh my.

I’m happiest with a surfeit of work and should really stop complaining. But like I said… nothing is pleasing, today. The impeachment hearings are going on, and I am sick-saddened that once again the rich old white men will suffer no consequences. Over and over again they do the worst and endure no punishment. It’s enough to make me doubt justice itself.

Normally I’m a great believer in the arc of history bending towards the light, but I am so nauseous at the lack of consequences for murderous rich old white men, even that is denied me. My capacity for hope has taken quite a beating over the last few years.

Even if there’s no snow, we’ve still laid in a stock of hot choco. The Princess brought home marshmallows yesterday too, so at least there’s that. It’s still chilly enough to snuggle on the couch under a blanket I’m knitting, drink hot cocoa, and perhaps get the last bit of proofing done this weekend. There are also plans for potato-leek soup.

The Princess opened our produce order the other day and said, in tones of surpassing wonder, “There’s a leek in the box!” A short pause. “No, two leeks in the box!” And I laughed so hard I had to sit down while wheezing. All I could think of was SNL and Justin Timberlake’s Dick in a Box; she was thinking of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and honestly didn’t expect my response.

At odd times since, my brain has served up “It’s a leek in a box!” and I’ll start to snort-laugh helplessly.

This is, I suspect, why I’m unfit for any job or career where I have to be physically around people for any length of time. I just can’t stop cackling at entirely imaginary bullshit.

Anyway, it’s time to take my pleased-by-nothing self for a cuppa–always the best cure for whatever ails one, I firmly believe. And there’s the subscription stuff to be sent off today, after I finish the afternoon errands. I am not fit to be around others in public right now, but needs must when the devil drives, as usual.

Maybe this evening I can spend some time with the damn Viking werewolves. They refuse to sit down and be quiet inside my head–yet another sign of my general unfitness, alas. But it’s hilarious, and if I’m laughing, I don’t mind displeasure so much.

At least I’m having fun.

Over and out.

Cake and Weird

The week started out with cake and is ending with were-hamsters (don’t ask) so… it’s safe to say that the weird is still going strong Chez Saintcrow.

Nice to see some things never change.

Here’s the end of last weekend’s cake binge. The red velvet on the left remained unfrosted; it was consumed with whipped cream and fruit. The yellow cake on the right was frosted with chocolate (a classic!) and it did not survive the night. I was able to have slivers of remaining red velvet Monday morning, though.

I’m feeling more hopeful and more social, though I can’t tell how long either will last. Mere survival isn’t easier than rebuilding/healing, but when my focus is a narrow laser pointed at “just get through this” it seems easier than looking around at the wreckage and going “… great, now what?”

Wanting to weep at the sheer amount of damage seems a lot harder than just reacting and keeping oneself together while everything is still an inferno. I know it just requires different efforts in different methods of application, but it just feels harder.

Anyway, I probably won’t bake another cake for a while. That’s fine, there are other tasty things to make and enjoy. And while rebuilding is hard, it’s also a vast improvement over constant daily retraumatization. Perceived effort is, in this case, not quite the whole story.

…I’m still going to need some time to breathe, though. Good thing it’s a Friday.

Have a restful weekend, my beloveds. Be gentle with yourselves. The wreckage is still smoking, and we have yet to grieve. It’s going to be a long haul.

Flakes, Time, and (French) Toast

A lot of you are on the cake train, and I’ve got to say, if that’s my contribution to the rising relief, I’m happy with it. (Bonus for all the “cake wasn’t a lie!” jokes. I knew you were My People.)

However, I have definitely had enough cake, and though the enjoyment of cake is a renewable resource, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to make another one for a while.

The weather feathers are saying snow today. It won’t last–it never does in this temperate part of the world–but it’ll be nice to drink some hot cocoa and watch it come down, even if nobody told me we were out of sandwich bread.

Bloody hell.

I’m not heading out to the grocer’s under these conditions. Everyone will be out panicking through their French toast shopping–eggs, milk, bread. I suppose I could whip up some bread dough and have that be the day’s project along with getting the end of HOOD‘s Season Three arranged. I need this zero draft done, boy howdy.

I had a hot knitting date last night, so I didn’t get in any work on the Viking Elementalist. It’s all right, I still have to figure out what happens on her first night sleeping away from home. I think the werewolves are going to make an appearance, though not in the way the protagonist might expect.

I originally had a huge set-piece chase and stuff planned for the end of HOOD but it just doesn’t make sense. The story wants a different route. I just wish it would have told me before now, but honestly, it was a bad year for both of us and I’m holding no grudges. I have to have faith that the story knows what it’s doing and will bring us all home safely.

Faith in anything else, however, is in somewhat short supply around here lately. (Need I restate, it was a bad year and the January following was a real dilly too, even though it hasn’t even ended yet?) It hasn’t been a full week since the inauguration, but the time feels endless. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to the pre-pandemic experience of time. I’m reserving judgment on whether that’s a good or bad thing, just like I’m waiting to see if there will be any consequences leveled at violent racist insurrectionists.

I had a whole rant flash through my mind about how we’re all shaky-legged in the first recovery stage after major ongoing abusive trauma, trying to breathe and flinching every time the madness looks like it’s about to start up again. But Boxnoggin is alerting every time a stray gust of wind goes down the street, and I can’t keep a sentence in my head long enough to type while he’s interrupting every other word.

He wants his damn ramble, even though he’s going to pick up his dainty paws and give me many a reproachful glance as soon as he realizes it’s near freezing and yes, we’re bloody well walking even though he’s changed his mind.

You know, I bet I can still have the big chase at the end of Season Three if…

*time passes*

…aaaaaand I managed to get the idea onto a Post-it before Boxnoggin lost his shit again, since a nice lady with a stroller and two well-trained dogs was passing in front of our house, and apparently that Cannot Be Borne. There’s sixty-plus pounds of dopey black boxer-terrier who needs to frickin’ chill, and he won’t until after a ramble.

Wish me luck. It’s cold out there, and maybe I’ll see a flake or two. Atmospheric, though. Not human. (Though our neighborhood has no shortage of the latter…)

Over and out.

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…