Onward, I Suppose

summer queen

I finished reading Volume 1 of Nevins on the Civil War yesterday morning. I’m going to go on to Shelby Foote instead of diving into the Brothers Karamazov; I am just not mentally prepared for the Russians right now. After The Vegetarian, I think I need time to scab over.

Nevins has some drawbacks, but this particular edition’s from 1971, so I can forgive a few quibbles and inconsistencies. With both him and Foote, I am struck by the overwhelming sausage-fest-ness. It’s as if women didn’t matter unless they were married to a great man. I feel sorry for Mary Todd, she really had a hard time of it. That marriage can’t have been less than OMG stressful once Lincoln was elected. Even if you were built to handle stress, that would have been Too Damn Much. The real wonder is that she bore with it as well as she did.

I find myself reading and wondering what the other half of the population was doing, thinking, feeling, during the events described. The number’s probably three-quarters if you count the enslaved–I had never realized before how much even people in the North wanted to wriggle away from the the fact of enslavement. Current events are, of course, just another unfolding of that horrid legacy, and there are still asshats trying to deny it ever happened, and trying to deny that racism is still institutionalized in America.

*shakes head* You can tell what I think of that.

It’s turned cloudy and damp after a couple too-warm days, and I’m grateful. Revisions on Cormorant Run continue apace, with new scenes and expanded passages. Considering the speed with which that book tore itself out of my head, and the fury and havoc it wreaked on its way out, I’m pleased to find it doesn’t completely suck. It’s lean and tight, yes, and needs the brushstrokes filled in, but all in all, it holds up reasonably well in revision.

Sometimes, that’s all one can ask for.

Over and out.

A Full Weekend

Markedcover2

I’ve added new perks to the Indiegogo campaign for The Marked. If you have an idea for a perk, do let me know.

This past weekend, the Princess graduated from high school. (Good Lord, I feel old.) Yes, I cried. That seems the only appropriate response when you’ve successfully managed to get a tiny dependent being through the eighteen years of childhood and early adolescence. The ceremony to mark such a thing, while boring, is still important because it’s a ritual, drawing a nice bright line between the phase of “public school” and the entry into young adulthood. I rarely have the patience for communal rituals, but I recognize their import.

My baby, growing up. *sniffles a bit*

She’s handling the transition better than I am. You get into the habit of feeding, caring, listening for their breathing, constantly blocking traffic for them, guiding, watching, loving them so hard your very bones ache when they’re in any kind of pain. It leaves an imprint. Learning to let go, bit by bit, as they grow, is hard. You wake up one day, and they’re doing things like BEING ALL GROWN-UP. And the feelings get so big they leak out of your nose and eyes and mouth.

The other thing I did this weekend was run a writing workshop for teens. It was interesting. I have often thought of running online writing workshops, and it was fun to do sort of a dry run and see what kinds of questions people ask, how a workshop is structured, and how to keep an audience interested. I think it went rather well.

Still, all the emotion, and the public speaking, left me drained down to a bare shadow of myself. I suspect I’ll need another day or so to recover, then it’s on to Cormorant Run revisions. I planned to start them at the beginning of the month, but the zombie apocalypse story grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I think I was using the zombies to decompress, or just plain to escape.

…yeah, my wiring is weird. But then, if you’re reading this, you quite probably knew that already. I’m retreating, also, because the news is so terrible, and I am old enough to realize it’s very likely nothing will be done. People simply love their fear and their hatred too much to change; it terrifies me that my children will be going into such a world.

So I’m off to refill my creative well, and to go back into a world I built a while ago. If there’s hope, it lies in creating. Or at least, so I tell myself. It’s all I have to fight the fear.

Over and out.

Run, Think, Write

Afterwar is taking a direction I don’t want, don’t like, don’t care for, and one I almost don’t understand. It wants to be a much bigger book, and it wants me to get inside the head of a banal evil. Part of me knows it’s the next step in my evolution as a writer, but the rest of me is digging in its heels for several reasons.

I haven’t yet reached the point of no return, where the story punches its spurs into my sides and pulls my hair, refusing to let go. Once I do, I’ll have to finish the damn book, even if it takes staying up nights because I’m working on paying projects during the day. There’s plenty of fear involved–fear of doing it wrong, fear of not serving the book well, fear that it will be the thing that breaks my career. Every step forward is accompanied by these wrenching feelings, and it gets…well, not precisely old, but I heave an internal sigh and think okay, so we’re on THIS merry go round again.

The only path is straight through, the only cure is work. So I’m taking this week to do all Afterwar, all the time, except of course for those moments when I’m chasing down people who owe me things. (Including money. The least-glamorous part of being a writer: submitting invoices and politely but firmly demanding they be paid.)

Miss B’s leg is better, but I’m not taking her running for a while yet. She, of course, despises this turn of events and grudgingly accepts ambles with Odd Trundles as better than nothing. I’d forgotten what it was like to run without her, really, and I miss my partner. On the other hand, I don’t have to drop my center of gravity and keep going nearly as much, and I don’t have to do fancy footwork to avoid her getting tangled up underneath me when a delivery vehicle or another dog passes by. It’s much calmer, and I fall into the peculiar trance of effort and sweat, things shaking loose and my subconscious busily putting together the next few scenes for when I sit down and focus.

So for this week, I run, and I think, and I write. It should at least give me an idea of where and what this book actually wants to be when it grows up. And after I spend some quality time with it, I can turn to Cormorant Run with fresh eyes and insert all the things I glossed over in its messy, very quick birth. That particular book tore itself out of my brain like it was on fire and needed to get to a lake. Now that I have some distance from it, I can see where the holes are, and fortunately I know everything that goes on inside those holes.

Which means at least there’s something I know how to do coming up. It’s a small comfort, but I’ll take it.

Back to Work

I get to go back to work today! I get to revise Cormorant Run! Everything is itching under my skin from trying like hell to take a few days off. I know I needed it–my head was not a pleasant place to hang about, last week, being full of the noise and clamor of the internal engines winding down. But it was unpleasant.

I did finish reading a couple books, though. The best of them was Sarah Wise’s Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England. Wise is an auto-buy for me, everything she does is a cracking good read and backed up with well-organized notes. Her bibliographies and appendices are things of beauty, too. You can feel her joy in history radiating from the page.

Her observations near the end of the book about the mid-twentieth century’s use of the Victorian concepts of “lunacy” or “moral insanity” and the connections to eugenics were startling and thought-provoking. She ends with saying that’s another book, and I devoutly hope she’s writing it.

Next up on my list is the Norton Critical edition of Brothers Karamazov, as well as Judith Herrin’s history of Byzantium. The latter has some problems, true. My eyebrows have nested in my hairline at some of the typos, as well as Herrin’s extremely evident good-feelings towards Christianity somewhat muddying the analytical waters. For all that, it’s a good general introduction to Byzantium, though not as magisterial and readable as John Julius Norwich’s work on the Eastern Roman Empire, which I reread every now and again, generally after I’ve had another bout with Gibbon.

I am pleased to report Miss B’s leg is doing well, too. I am still not taking her on runs, or even on gentle walks. The problem seems to be a muscle sprain just below her ankle, and that needs to be good and healed before she can chase anything down the hall or go on walkies. The poor thing is beside herself with impatience, and I can’t blame her. I feel the same way when an injury sidelines me. However, many snuggles and plenty of canine massage to help the healing process seems to be a somewhat (if not thoroughly) acceptable substitute. This morning she even scrambled after Fearless!Cat, who had come upstairs to investigate whether the dog bowls had leftover bacon grease suitable for feline snacking and hairball-easing.

After I revise Cormorant I need to make some decisions about which project to finish next. I’m thinking it will have to be Afterwar, my near-future Band of Brothers homage crossed with mutation and maybe, if I can shoehorn it in, some cyborg action. It’s still in the planning stages, but it’s a trilogy, and I feel like sinking my teeth into a series after finishing a spate of stand-alone books. This particular project scares the hell out of me, because it is big and there are so many ways it could go wrong. But it’s the type of terror that makes me fiercely determined to do my best to pull it off.

And that’s all the news from this corner of the world, except for an upcoming event at a local bookstore (more on that later) and Odd Trundles’s perennial quest to hoover up any item anyone in the house drops on the principle that sooner or later it will be something edible. This weekend he almost gobbled my phone, two sets of earbuds, a handful of cabbage meant for the cavy, a few catalogs, and a tube of rose-scented hand lotion. Thank God I’ve been rolling high on every “grab that before the dog gets it” interaction. Training for multiple years with toddlers has finally paid off.

Over and out.

All the Things

Today I mean to do ALL THE THINGS. Including paint the new scrapes on my fists with liquid bandage. (Hello, acetone burn!)

No, I have not been training my kung-fu against a sandpaper post. I’ve just been clumsy lately. And I can no longer plunge my hands into boiling water for long periods of time to wash dishes. Not young anymore, I guess. Not that I ever was.

Mostly I feel ancient. I have for so long it’s become habitual. Everyone looks so damn young to me.

Anyway, there’s a million errands to run and things to do, and I guess getting a serious chunk of revision on Desires, Known–the genie story–is the millionth-and-one. Time to get out the sledgehammer and make with some internal repair.

Over and out.

Schpring

Spring Break is here. The children are ecstatic, I don’t have to worry about getting them to school or extracurricular activities, and it’s a perfect time to catch up on that huge pile of work…

…oh, man, I knew there was a catch.

Friday morning was sad, because we had to take Frau L to the airport. Her group was off to spend a few days in San Francisco before flying back home to Germany. It really doesn’t feel like she was here for three weeks. We didn’t get to do half the stuff we wanted to, mostly because of the group activities–with a significant proportion of That One Damn American Teacher Being Consistently Late and Habitually Changing Venues So Everyone Else Has to Scramble. (Can you tell I was underimpressed?) ANYWAY.

We sent her off with snacks and a triple-weighed bag, plenty of pocket money, clean clothes…and yes, I teared up a bit to see her go. (I get attached, you know. And she’s such a sweet girl.) Her parents are anxious to have her home. I don’t blame them one bit, I’m going to be climbing the walls when the Princess goes overseas this summer.

The weekend was all cleaning and piano lessons and weeding, since the weather was nice. Today, as befits the first day of Spring Break, I’m off to a late start. I did put a chunk of candied ginger in my coffee, so there’s that little zing to help me get started. There’s a morning run to get in, another fifty pages of revisions, planning out the next few weeks’ worth of scheduled work, putting in some transcription time…

…crap. Can I just go back to bed? Please?

*staggers away, mumbling*

Inefficiency Bothers Me

sixstringsamuraiicon You don’t change the location of a potluck two hours before the damn thing starts, especially on a work day. Apparently, though, one of the American teachers involved in the exchange program thought that was an appropriate thing to do. This is the same teacher that’s consistently twenty minutes late to every event, and whose indifferent organizing meant that at least three times several of the students were unable to contact their host parents when pickup times changed. *eyeroll* The inefficiency bothers me.

As I’m sure you can tell.

Most of all, though, I’m embarrassed by her. We’re supposed to be putting our best foot forward for the exchange program.

ANYWAY. All of this meant that instead of being able to attend two events for two different sets of kids, I could attend neither because I was busy driving everyone to where they needed to be. In any case, it’s over now, and I am hoping I don’t ever have to deal with this particular teacher ever again.

Revisions on She Wolf and Cub proceed apace. I’m doing a pass for formatting and basic things, since all my italics seem to have been stripped out. (You know how much I love my italics.) When that’s done, I’ll make another pass for details. The setting is so very clear in my head, but that needs to hit the page as well. If there ever was a book where I need to luxuriate in the background, it’s this one. The stacks of towering stone, the endlessness of the sand, the silver and indigo of the dunes at night, they all need to be brought forward.

So that’s my day. After, of course, I get out the door for my long run to sweat out the irritation from yesterday. I can even taste it, thin metal at the very back of my tongue. I never thought, when I started running, that it would be a mood regulator. Just one more benefit, I suppose, along with tiring out Miss B and working plot tangles loose.

Over and out.