Wise Fools, Everywhere, All at Once

I meant to get a chunk of the line edits done up yesterday, but the world had other plans. I ended up driving down to Molalla to get Bailey’s cremains.

It was a lovely drive, traffic was easy both ways and there were beautiful fluffy clouds in an achingly blue sky. Miss B got to return home in the front seat–always a great ambition of hers, she never liked to be in the back. It was entirely too much distance between her and her beloved human, even though said human insisted it was far safer for her royal self.

I suppose it was the last thing I was waiting for. Now she’s home, in a box of pressed mulberry fiber. Which is nice enough, and I’ll find a sturdier (all-weather) urn in a little bit. Once I can look at the container without bursting into tears.

Yeah. Did a lot of crying yesterday, and was useless for any kind of work. Ended up going to bed early and watching Everything Everywhere All at Once, which Skyla recommended. She said it was like the end of Hyperbole and a Half’s “Depression Part 2, which at once explains everything about the movie, gives nothing away, and also told me it was perhaps what I needed.

I ended up sobbing so hard my chest hurt. I thought I was having some kind of cardiac arrest. But Boxnoggin was supremely unworried, he just wanted to snuggle and lick my tear-wet cheeks. I figured that if I were really having a heart attack, he would be a little more perturbed. As it was, he seemed to consider what I was doing weird but necessary, so I just…went with it. That’s the difference between Five Years Ago Me and Present Me, I suppose.

It is a really good movie, and if you’ve seen it you’ll understand the humor of me snort-laughing through my tears and saying to my dog, “Oh, shit, *Boxnoggin’s Real Name*. I’m Waymond.”

Ever been crying so hard your ribs ache, laughing at the same time, caught between sorrow and absurdity, a rope between two black holes? Yeah. Like that.

Anyway, I turned off the light once the movie was done and commended my soul(s) to the gods, just in case it was some sort of cardiac thing. It was somewhat anticlimactic to wake this morning to a heavy marine layer, Smashing Pumpkins’s 1979 playing in my head for some reason, my heart continuing its weary work, and Boxnoggin grinning at me, demanding belly rubs.

See, he seemed to be saying, like the wise fool he is, I told you it was fine, you just needed a good cry.

So he gets a long-ish ramble today, and I swear I’m going to start those line edits. The last week and a half has been bloody endless, it’s felt like a year, and I am tormented with the sense that I’m months behind as well as the deep aching hole of missing my shadow. At least she’s home, where I can touch her, I can hold the box when I need another good cry now. It hurts, certainly. It hurts a lot.

But that pain is a measure of the love, and I would not trade that for anything. And she didn’t go alone–that would’ve been ever so much worse. Nothing loved is ever truly lost, thank goodness.

The coffee needs finishing. The ramble needs doing. I have to pull my own weary corpse through a run as well, and then, by the gods, I will open these line edits and go back into The Dead God’s Heart. And when I need to I’ll retreat to my bedroom, hold the box, and cry some more.

Be gentle with yourselves today, my beloveds. Everything is hard right now, but maybe…well, maybe it’s not all hopeless bullshit.

Maybe.

Dreams, Revisions, and Screaming

My dreams have been even more vivid than usual. None have the particular tsunami-quality that would make them good books (or even novellas); I think it’s just my brain cleaning house under current stressful conditions. This morning’s skull-movie was waking up in a particular bedroom I’ve seen before (but never in real life), bars of thick golden sunlight coming through the wide windows with wrought-iron muntins, and being addressed by a horned figure with tiger stripes who moves from one shadow to the next.

Oddly, the horned figure speaks in some version of French, and I woke up trying to conjugate a verb so I could reply. Go figure.

I am told some people dream in black-and-white, and some in color. My own dreams are so hypersaturated real life seems pale in comparison, but that’s no surprise since the story-hallucinations I often have are the same. Realer than real isn’t just for portal fantasies.

Anyway, it’s Thursday, I’m almost halfway through revisions on the second Ghost Squad book, and I think I’ve got all the screaming out of my system. I did take some time to put together discrete playlists for both Damage (playlist here) and Book 2, but I think that was the last gasp of procrastination before I buckled down. The dogs kept checking on me yesterday, as they always do when an edit letter lands and I take some time to privately vent my fury.

I’ve talked before about the process of getting all the “how dare you suggest altering my deathless purple prose” out of the way before settling to revisions. Editors are here to make your book/story/whatever better, and they are human beings, not punching bags. Get all your angst, sturm, und drang out of the way on your own, either in your office, locked in your bathroom, screaming into a pillow, or venting to a trusted friend (with their permission and the Cone of Silence, of course). There’s no need to direct any of it to the editor, who is only trying to help. And ninety-nine and a half times out of a hundred, said editor has a good point.

Now, I have been revenge-edited before, but that is exceedingly rare and behaving professionally in that event is even more crucial. Partly out of spite–you don’t want to give this person any further ammunition–but also as a point of personal pride. And it’s easy to mistake one’s knee-jerk reaction to the first round of having a book one has worked very hard on for months or years judged by an onlooker for revenge editing, so you don’t want to open your mouth and be proved wrong later when the dust settles, the emotion clears, and you realize that yes, the editor is right and something needs a fix.

So I alternated my working time yesterday between revisions (got almost halfway, hurrah) and lying on the office floor with the dogs, muttering into their fur about how cruel and unjust the world is to us poor tender writers. They’re used to that sort of thing, and offered no advice, just friendly licks and insistent “well, then, pet us and forget about it.” All in all, wasn’t a bad day, and I’m beginning to think this book isn’t bad at all.

Which is always a relief, since it’s a sign that I’ve achieved enough distance from writing the damn thing to contemplate it calmly. Always a blessed event.

And yet I am only halfway, and I have dogs to walk, my own corpse to run, and the subscription drop to get sorted before I can go back to it. The drop might be put off to Friday, as sometimes happens if I find I don’t want to break momentum. We’ll see.

So…it will be a busy Thursday, my beloveds, and I’d best get started. At least there are a couple eclairs left to soothe the sting, and if I am a Very Productive Writer who gets the damn revisions done by the weekend I can work on the space-werewolves-and-pro-wrestling erotica as a treat.

It’s good to have things to look forward to. I bid you, my darlings, a civil adieu.

Unstuck in Time

Well. Release day has come and gone, it’s the last day of two sales, and I woke up convinced down to my marrow that it was Friday. I have, like Billy Pilgrim, come unstuck in time.

Not that I was ever too firmly nailed into Cronos’s river to begin with, since I step out to enter other universes on a daily basis. And frankly, what with events on this timeline and all, other worlds are looking better and better each moment. Yes, I know it’s terrible to dream of leaving what with all this mess around…but I can’t help it, and it’s a fantasy that has very little chance of being fulfilled so just let me have it, please.

I have already had to apply stinging (though polite) rebukes to two separate businesses involved in hijinks today, and can’t help but think that will set the tone for the entire Thursday, so–

I had to check the date on my desktop once more. Yes. It’s Thursday. How did I forget in the space of two paragraphs?

I know why this is happening: Stress, and successive traumas. Pandemic, ongoing fascist coup (said coup attempt is not over), war, and non-plague-related health issues are all jumping on the bandwagon, and my sense of time has been shoved off to make its way home as best it can. Yet I’ve had the great good fortune to be able to work from home with very little disruption, not to mention the fact that both the kids are out of school now–well, the Prince’s last two years of schooling were interrupted by this, but we fought for and won the remote learning option. Otherwise I’d’ve yanked him out and let him take his GED, and that would be that. But I can’t imagine what it’s like for, say, a few of our neighbors, who have toddlers and elementary-school children.

Pretty sure they’re drifting in time, too.

The sun is out this morning, and the dogs have no idea why I’m so slow, not to mention perturbed. They can sense the stress, whether by smell or simple observation. Miss B sticks to me like glue, attempting to supervise me into peace, and Boxnoggin makes circuits of the house, patrolling the bounds. See, he seems to be saying, I am on guard, you needn’t worry.

They’re trying to help. The kids and I talk about what’s happening at dinnertime, and there are extra hugs and check-ins during the day. It’s somewhat of a comfort that even though adult, neither of them turn down the opportunity to grab a Mum hug. Each time I ask, “Would you like–” they immediately say, “YES.” Maybe they know it soothes me too.

I’m pretty tightly scheduled and have electronic nags on phone, desktop, and tablet keeping me on-track; I find myself obsessively checking my digital calendars, dead convinced I’ve missed something important. If not for to-do lists I wouldn’t get a damn thing done, and maybe that’s why I feel so disjointed; I crossed off everything on yesterday’s list and didn’t immediately make today’s. I should update the master list as well, since I’ve crossed off four zero drafts on it and need to finish four more.

Huh. Maybe I have been working enough lately. It’s weird to think that the persistent sense of not-doing-as-much-as-I-should could be lying to me. I don’t know why I’m surprised, I’m fully aware that feeling is a lying liar who lies, and yet it creeps in with many different forms, poking and tormenting.

In any case, finding out it’s Thursday means I have a completely different set of tasks than the one I was braced for, but also means I feel like I have a whole extra day this week to get things done. Between the release and a couple other things, I’ve been playing catch-up and unable to really work for a few days, and it’s been a torment. I thought I’d have Sons of Ymre #2 finished by now, but…that’s not happening.

I just heaved a giant sigh, and the dogs think that means brekkie-time. I suppose I should go and get that sorted, and walk the beasts. They will be content with their noses buried in hedges for most of it, and I can take some joy in their absolute commitment to the Now.

It’s Thursday, I know it’s Thursday, and yet I just had to check the calendar again. I suspect I’ll be doing it all day. There’s some comfort in knowing I’m not alone in the maneuver, I suppose.

See you around, my friends.

Breathing From Hope

The weekend was lovely, though far too short–mostly because I worked through most of it, in one way or another, as has become necessary or just advisable nowadays. If I slow down too much, I run the risk of drowning.

The solar-powered lucky cat in the office garden is busily waving away, a sign the grow light is performing as intended. Otherwise, it’s a very dim rainy morning indeed, and the other solar bits and bobs–mostly flowers–are breathlessly still, waiting to see if the clouds will part. They probably won’t, which pleases me to no end–running in the rain is a particular joy, and I have new running socks.

There is very little as luxurious as new socks.

Sunday was extremely quiet; I built a fire in the upstairs fireplace and read from Anaïs Nin’s diaries. I’ve often meant to read more than Henry & June (and some of the erotica) and now seems the time to do it. I did read Henry Miller during my first-ever bookstore job, but found him very much like Brautigan, Heinlein, Harrison, and a great many of the Beats–so in love with worshiping their own twig-and-berries that they can’t see anything else. They imagine they’re casting monolith shadows, but it’s really just a lone stick stuck in the sand at noon, only seeming a monument because they’re looking at nothing else. Nin, for all her faults, has to take a wider view.

Anyway, it’s really nice to read Nin after intervening decades. I’ve gone from “why would you even be thinking about this, Anaïs?” to “oh, honey, I’ve been there, it’ll be so nice to see you get to the other side of it.” That’s the power of age, of surviving a world that wants to kill anything female.

Another thing I’m thinking about a lot lately is the idea, prevalent in both fantasy and horror, that childhood is a time of great power that never comes again. There is certainly a great deal to be said for innocence and wonder, and the energy of a young thing. But I want to write magical systems and things now where age and experience means far more power and counts for more than “I’m a young and talented Gary Stu, hur de hur hur, and I’ll never be this good again.” My thoughts on this are a bit inchoate at the moment, but I can see the dimensions of the problem and have possible solutions in mind. I think that’ll be the theme of The Innkeeper’s War but I have to finish The Black Land’s Bane first.

It’s nice to have things to think about, to feel like there might be enough of a future to continue breathing out of hope rather than mere spite. I’ve been sticking myself head-down in stories to survive for my entire life, but the years since 2016 have been…something else. May you live in interesting times is a horrible curse and if I ever found out who inflicted it on us I shall have words with them, dammit.

This morning, for the first time in a long while, I feel like there might be a future to survive for. Or maybe it’s just that my focus has narrowed so sharply I am seeing different horizons? I don’t know. It could just be the fact that I’m up relatively early on a Monday and need a new office chair. Ideally, I’d like one I can sit cross-legged in while I type, but that seems to be a fond dream more than an actual item than exists.

I spent a long time writing novels on a laptop balanced on a lap-desk while I sat cross-legged in a papasan chair, and while that might’ve been bad for my back it was good for me creatively, and I could also stretch out when necessary. I miss that, though I’m sure I could just…stand up? And get the same thing?

I don’t think I want solutions. I think I want to complain. *snork*

There’s another Tea with Lili today, and I actually have a dedicated Teatime Notebook now where I make notes about future subjects and things to talk about. I think today it’ll be a follow-up to my feelings about the so-called self-help industry, which we touched on last week, and we’ll talk about the work of worldbuilding as well as why I like timers so much. It’s good to have something planned, though I’m sure I’ll go wildly off-topic, as per usual.

The dogs are prancing up and down the hall, eager for me to grab some toast and get started on the day. I still have a third of a cup of coffee left, though, and the morning’s quad shot tastes especially good today for some reason. Seasoned by survival, perhaps.

Happy Monday, beloveds. I get to go running in the rain, which always pleases me, and I hope you have something likewise pleasant to look forward to.

See you around.