Welcome, Great Pumpkin

Happy Samhain, my beloveds. It’s the first and last day of the witch’s year, and there’s already a bowl of candy on the kitchen table. I did roll out of bed and straight into eight complex tasks I had to accomplish before I was allowed to make coffee–one of which was taking Boxnoggin outside for his usual wake-up loo break. He is Quite Put Out that it’s so damp outside, and the wind flirting with the cedars also touched his rump, at which he gave a startled leap and looked at me as if I were responsible.

To him, I am a near-incomprehensible all-powerful goddess, so clearly the weather is some kind of terrible chthonic joke I’m playing on the world. I wish I had even a sliver of the might this poor dog attributes to me; I could do so much with it.

But the heat pump has been turned on, the bed made, Boxnoggin’s brekkie (ignored for the moment, until I head to the toaster) set out, a multitude of other preparations finished, and I can sit to absorb some caffeine for a few moments. Poor Lord van der Sploot is going to despise walkies today, despite begging for them the instant I finish my coffee. He’s going to give me so many reproachful looks, I can just tell, and when we get back home he’ll need a towel and a treat to mollify him.

Last night I finished absorbing an ancient battered paperback of Dick Gregory’s No More Lies, which was a well-written, engaging, truthful, and difficult read. Engaging with American history–cavalcade of genocide, enslavement, and robber-baron enrichment that it is–pretty much always nauseates. If you have any empathy, that is. Nothing in it was a surprise, though I did learn a few details about some specific events I hadn’t known before, and in Chapter VII, I came across one of the best passages I’ve ever read in a history book.

Although repression is a futile solution, it is a legitimate reaction. All men have the basic right to be afraid, regardless of how wrong, how degenerate, or how insane they are.

–Dick Gregory, No More Lies: The Myth and the Reality of American History

It’s very kind to attribute cruelty, bigotry, and misogyny to fear instead of just sheer sociopathic cruelty. I think fear is always a component to varying degrees, though most of it is simply that many people are comfortable with being cruel and even enjoy it when there are no consequences. A steady, swift application of social disapprobation and financial penalties for being a bigoted dickwad would do a great deal to correct and deter most fascist fellow-travelers; unfortunately, our entire society is set up to reward such behavior instead.

The level of espresso in my mug is dropping, and my tissues are soaking up the caffeine like dry earth gratefully swallowing the autumn rains. I suppose it’s time to think about brekkie, drop the leftover toast crusts in Boxnoggin’s bowl, get out the trench coat, and go for a damp ramble with the dog. I’ll be cooking all day, except for if/when I manage to squeeze in an extra livestream–I think I might read Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart to you madcaps, since it’s my favorite of his short stories and I haven’t cracked open my Compleat Edgar Allen for a hot minute. (I’ll probably hit Twitch this afternoon.)

Rain on the roof, all the high-fructose corn syrup we can handle, a day completely off because for godsake I’m not working on Samhain, and tonight we’ll burn wishes for the upcoming year on perfumed joss paper…my dance card is full.

I hope you have a blessed day, my dears. I wish you a pleasant holiday.

No Silly Decisions

Had a difficult time dragging myself out of bed this morning and made the mistake of looking at the day’s to-do list before coffee. Had to take my imposter syndrome by the scruff and give it a gentle shake–no wonder I’m feeling overwhelmed, after back-to-back copyedits, a new release, and Everything Else. Three years of functioning under pandemic circumstances are beginning to tell. It’s time to be gentle with myself, and to not make any silly decisions because I’m tired.

Never make any life decisions before coffee or after 9pm, my friends. It’s a good rule, one I wish I’d known sooner. Of course I feel a bit panicked, given the sheer amount of work going on. Of course I feel drained after upping my livestreaming time. And of course I feel frayed down to transparency after back-to-back copyedits.

I prefer too much work to too little, naturally, and I’ve got my wish. Now there’s proof pages to get done, and I can spend the rest of spooky season on revisions and the serial. I think NaNoWriMo this year will be the next Tolkien Viking Werewolves book, so that’s one decision off my plate. And I’m considering tapering down the weekly online teas in favor of simply reading to you madcaps. We’ll see.

The weather has finally turned. It’s no longer a gasping-hot mess outside, which makes walkies–not to mention daily runs–ever so much more pleasant. Pretty soon I’ll need a jacket during Boxnoggin’s morning struts, and I can’t wait. The fitful breeze through my office window is the perfect temperature, and despite the fact that the season changing means a lot more yard work, I’m extremely happy. It’s not quite pumpkin season yet…but the gourds are swelling on the vine, and soon the rains will come in.

I’m ever so much more productive when it rains, so I’m looking forward to that. So it’s time for deep breathing, a stern look at my imposter syndrome (already shrinking to pea-size since such things always quail in the face of objective proof), and some toast to balance out the coffee just hitting my bloodstream. And maybe, just maybe, a few hours off today after I finish the critical stuff on the list, since I’ll do no-one at all any good if I hit burnout. That new true-crime documentary on Netflix won’t watch itself, after all.

Happy Thursday, beloveds. We’re almost to the end of the week. If we just hold on a little longer…

Sixth Time Friday

Snow? Ha. I scoff at such inclemency!

How is it Friday? Wait. Is it Friday?

…I checked, for the sixth time this morning. It is indeed and irrevocably Friday, and I’m pretty sure the recent freak snowstorm was winter’s very last gasp. Sometimes seasons like a long drawn-out death, like certain movie villains. Remember Alan Rickman’s death scene in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Everything about that movie was fantastic, except for Kevin Costner.

Christ, I’m old.

Anyway, it’s Friday. There’s an upcoming Tea with Lili today, where we’ll be talking about how to deal with snapback. (I will still be knitting on the same damn shawl.) I’m sure there will be other tangents and subjects, as per usual.

It is a hushed, dripping, misty morning, and the neighborhood is quiet. This is, I suspect, a mercy of short duration. Even the dogs are subdued (don’t worry, this won’t last) and I am only a third of the way through my coffee. The week is bouncing around inside me, trying to find a place to settle, and I dislike the feeling intensely.

I’ll be working all weekend, but at least I can take a deep breath while the fog wraps the trees–blooming or simply leafing out–in cotton and the birds gather on the Yankee Squirrel Flinger. I do really have to tell you guys about Boxnoggin and the windchimes, you guys will enjoy that story even if it’s embarrassing–for him, mind you, though he’s forgotten all about it already.

I was wearing shoes and thus escaped shame. (Mostly.)

Have a lovely weekend, my dears. May your weather be fair, your pets hilarious, and your relaxation epic.

See you next week.

Mental Mustelids

The dogs have turned up their nose at brekkie–“mere kibble, Mother, how dare.” Of course when they arrived from the shelter, even plain kibble was treated like manna. Now they’re spoiled, and they know the dinner-bowl will contain kibble, wet food, and perhaps a scrap or two from the human repast. So they disdain the morning offerings, unless they get just too hungry around midday and snarf it while I’m having lunch, begging all the while for a moiety of my own meal.

Such are dogs. Nothing is as good as what’s in the other’s bowl. Miss B, as an elderly and somewhat demented fur-child, thinks “sneaking” from Boxnoggin’s bowl is putting one over on the entire house. Boxnoggin is a really good sport about it–he can’t understand why she wants what’s in there so badly, but while she’s occupied he’ll wander over to hers and eat. You can see him give the equivalent of a canine shrug each time.

I have just resurrected and am staring blankly at my coffee mug. Someone in the neighborhood has been running a leaf blower for nearly an hour; the sound provoked me out of bed along with the dogs’ bladders. I need caffeine, I would not willingly step away from the slow infusion of java and that is what stops me from going looking for the source of the ruckus. Of course not everyone can keep my schedule, and the world does not exist to please me.

I’m just grumpy.

Yesterday was a good working day. I stripped out and rebuilt that bothersome scene in Hell’s Acre, and the monster hunters in Sons of Ymre #2 are now well and truly caught. The creation of a reasonable amount of text was accompanied by a deep and awful crisis of self-confidence. I suppose Sons #2 is shifting early from the new-and-shiny portion of novel writing to the Slough of Despond part. Hell’s Acre, of course, is having a difficult time because so much of it has been written during pandemic and other awful recent events.

I know where the problems lie, but the quicksand still drags at my feet. I still turn off the light after reading a bit of Nin’s diary and settle into the dark, where the barking of you’ll never be good enough echoes through my interior halls once I’m not distracting myself with actual work. (Or true crime videos.)

I know the only solution is to put my head down and keep working, that it’s most probably the voice of brainweasels and therefore, a lying liar who lies. Yet my defenses are rather thin right now, for a variety of reasons. I wake with the awful seashell song of you’ll never be good enough, you’re a fake, nobody really likes you or your books echoing through my skull, and the only mercy is that there’s usually another piece of music burrowing into my grey matter as a distraction.

Sometimes I wonder if the constant internal music is a self-protective reflex, drowning out the brainweasels. Maybe, maybe not, but either way I value the relief.

In any case, there are the dogs to walk and a run to accomplish. Then it’s back to the word mines–the subscription drop today is going to be lovely, I need to make a few more notes for tomorrow’s Tea with Lili (we’ll be talking about worldbuilding; Part I is now up on YouTube), there’s the return of a favorite character in Hell’s Acre to go back over and tweak, and I need to make some decisions about the structure of Sons #2. It’s a busy day, and I should make a list or nothing will get done. I’d like to do the running-with-werewolves scene in the Sekrit Projekt too, but that may be a step too far in terms of ambition and have to wait for the weekend–always assuming the other Sekrit Projekt via my agent doesn’t suddenly catch fire and rearrange my writing schedule.

…maybe the brainweasels are responding to the sheer amount of work I’ve assigned myself. Which is fine, I’ll lash them to the chariot and make them drag me, if I have to. If I were any good as a graphic artist I’d want to draw that, me in a Boudicca-like vehicle, pulled by a number of mouth-frothing mental mustelids.

Now there’s a fun mental image, and with it I shall bid you adieu, my beloveds. Don’t let Thursday win. If we band together, we can take it down.

Over and out.