Quiet Island

Took yesterday completely off social media, and it was so nice I may simply crawl back into the cave today as well. I lack any desire to look at the news.

The weekend involved a lot of yard work. The grapes are trimmed, so is the Japanese maple. A whack was taken at the pampas, but that’s going to be an ongoing campaign, not a single battle. Some dahlias have proved they were not, in fact, murdered by squirrels, so there’s that. I’m moving laurel and lilac volunteers to along the back fence, for reasons best left unspoken, and I suppose today is the day I get back to actual work instead of floundering and almost-procrastination.

There was also a great deal of housecleaning going on. Entirely necessary, because I’ve let a few thing slip between the weight of grief, the line edits, and recovery from both. (Not to mention the bloody news cycle.)

Fireworks were outlawed within city limits a few years ago, and with the pandemic there were few places to buy them locally this year. As a result, our street was somewhat of an island of quiet surrounded by artillery last night. Boxnoggin huddled against me shaking for most of it; we fell asleep, both trembling with stress despite sedation. The Mad Tortie went into hiding at the first mid-afternoon boom, as is her usual practice on the Fourth and New Year’s.

I hate this time of year for pets; they get so scared. This morning’s ramble with Boxnoggin will be a matter of patiently coaxing him into the open, and probably being knocked down and dragged if some asshole lets off a morning M80. I don’t quite wish maiming on everyone who wants to blow up a piece of native soil to “prove” their “patriotism” or some bullshit…but it’s close.

In short, I am locked in a great glassy ball of calm that might simply be emotional exhaustion. Whatever it is, it’s a relief, and I would very much like it to stick around for a few days so I can get some work done. Line edits for Duty just landed, so I have to stick those on the schedule along with work on Hell’s Acre, the second Tolkien Viking Werewolves book, and Ymre #2, which has been languishing somewhere around 40k for a while. The heroine and her stray beast really do need to get to the Temple and start unraveling the big mystery.

Someone’s running a leaf blower; at least it’s not fireworks. I’ll take it. And I suppose I really should run my own weary corpse today as well. I’ll feel better after a few kilometers’ worth of sweat.

Happy Tuesday, beloveds. Survival is a gat-damn victory right now, so if you’re reading this, good job! Proud of you! Don’t let the barstids grind you down, and all that.

See you around.

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.

Back Into the Cave

The heat finally broke late last night; I was up at 2am to open some windows and staggered back to bed. It will take time to shake off the lethargy from broken sleep and overheating, but at least I might be able to get a decent night’s rest soon.

It’s the little things.

Yesterday was the first time in what felt like ages I could actually get some real work done, and it was lovely. I suppose it helped that I shut the house early and it became a dark, relatively cooler cave, and further helped that I turned on the social-media blocker. (I use Freedom at the moment.) I simply can’t handle the firehose of the world’s pain right now, and especially not after screaming my head off warning people for years and…being ignored.

I know there are some people who did not ignore, and am very grateful for them. I suspect they’re feeling much the same way I am at the moment; I’m hearing a lot of exhaustion. There’s only so many times one can be proven absolutely correct about the oncoming rocks before one lowers one’s expectations to personally and quietly preparing the life boat and saving whatever one can grab. I learned this lesson in my second marriage, which culminated in my second divorce, and you’d think by now I’d simply shrug and move on when my warnings are dismissed.

Largely, I do! But when I see a disaster coming for millions of people, I (perhaps stupidly) think I have some kind of duty to alert those at risk. And I end up getting ignored at best, or kicked in the teeth at worst. It’s profoundly disheartening, and leaves me wondering why the fuck one should bother.

Maybe it’s only temporary weariness, and once I administer some self-care I’ll be ready to re-enter the fray. But…I’m so tired, so drained, and my contributions appear to be regarded as valueless.

Anyway. I have deadlines. Hell’s Acre is going along, the second season is planned out, and come July I’ll be getting That Damn Werelion Book proofed, not to mention starting the second Tolkien Werewolves Book. I begin to sense that last will have a difficult birth, for various reasons, and now I’m behind on Sons of Ymre #2. So the pro-wrestling space werewolves, as healing as I find them, may have to go on the back burner, and I might have to simply shut off all social media and leave the world to its own devices for a while.

It feels like abrogating responsibility. Yet extreme responsibility without corresponding power to fix problems is a recipe for burnout at best. I did everything I could, I wrote a whole-ass book and screamed my head off for literal decades, and…crickets. Now the bitter fruit of that rancid tree is ripe and stinking, and a great many people have the temerity to act shocked, shocked that the whole thing reeks. The deliberate disingenuousness is maddening.

…I’m not saying anything I haven’t said before, but I suppose I’ll let the above paragraph stand. At least there’s a reasonably cool breeze through my office window, the coffee is warm and good, and Boxnoggin cares not a whit for any of this. His Majesty van der Sploot is focused on the upcoming ritual of toast crust in his bowl before setting out on walkies. And then he’ll snore on my bed while I am forced to drag my corpse through a run. No doubt I’ll feel better after exercise, now that the weather’s finally cooperating again.

Are you as tired as I am, my beloveds? I think it’s quite possible. Take a break if you need it and it’s at all possible; nothing will be served by us working ourselves to death. Survival, no matter how bare, is an unqualified victory under these circumstances. Dum spiro, spero, and all that.

Time to get the toast made and the dog walked. See you around.

Hollowbone Hope

A night of grim insomnia gave way to leaf blowers at 7am, and there’s this big yellow thing in the sky I’m hissing at and hiding from. I’ve been adulting hard lately, and with all the other stuff going on in the world, the cognitive load has me feeling a little loopy.

A little? No, a lot loopy, and last night’s staring into the darkness while brooding might not have helped.

On the other hand, it might have. Certainly I feel calmer now, though that could simply be exhaustion. Either way, I’ll take it.

This morning I’m thinking about little things. I read about someone finding a ladybug in their house during a cold spell, looking up on the internet to see if there was a way to keep it alive until it could be taken back outside. (There is!) The amazing thing is, there were pages of other people asking the same question, which is a hopeful sign for humanity.

I had forgotten what a revelation the internet is, and I’m on it every day. There are whole YouTube channels of therapists giving advice on how to deal with narcissists, breaking down the patterns of abuse and telling one how to protect oneself. Caveat emptor and all, yes, but it’s still a huge improvement over suffering daily abuse in my childhood and teen years, feeling so lonely and isolated self-harm seemed the only option for dealing with the pain. There are so many more choices today, so much more knowledge.

There is the usual caveat–the internet is not ubiquitous, it just feels like it when you’re on it. Accessing all the information presupposes that one has the hardware (and data plan) to do so. At the same time, a rising tide lifts many boats, and plenty of things are now much more common knowledge than they were when I was a teen, or even just a decade ago. Hope, like a weed, stubbornly takes advantage of every crack.

On some level I hate the last monster in Pandora’s box, since it seems merely an invitation to get kicked in the teeth again. (Especially for the past six years…) I know it’s necessary, and yet it hurts so badly I often wish I were immune to its blandishments.

And a certain character in Hell’s Acre is giving me trouble. He insisted on showing up and making cryptic pronouncements, now he’s hanging out on a rooftop and moping. The urge to chuck a story-boulder onto his head to solve the problem is overwhelming, but instead I have to patiently bother and tease until he tells me what his goddamn deal is.

Ah well. As long as I’m frustrated over the imaginary people inside my head, I suppose I’m doing all right.

Oh, and the cordless weed whacker (not euphemism, thank you) works like a charm. I got most of the patio mostly excavated yesterday evening. I can rake the dried stuff away this afternoon and take another pass. It’s much easier than the other trimmer, which had to have an extension cord I was deathly afraid of getting tangled or cut. Technology, my stars and garters. We could do such wonderful things, us humans, if a malignant minority of us wasn’t given so much power and petting.

I’m contemplating another quad shot of espresso with brekkie, just to get some of the cottonwool out of my poor benighted skull. No run today, since going out after a terrible insomniac night is simply asking for injury, but I can fire up the yoga app and have it take me through a few sun salutations. (Another marvelous innovation.) Boxnoggin is slowly settling into being the only dog in the house; he doesn’t seem to be grieving so hard he needs a companion. Some dogs don’t; we may be a single-canine house for a while.

And whoever was running the leaf blowers seems to have finished their project, so there’s that. I’m sure someone else will start up with blowers elsewhere in the neighborhood soon, and if they don’t the pressure-washer brigade will be out. (I’m amazed some people have any driveways left, the way they blast them.) But for the moment there is a bit of peace, and I can shuffle for the toaster at a slow but steady pace.

The little things. I stalk them, pounce, hold the few moments’ worth of good feeling to my chest, treasure its gilded hide and hollow bones before opening my claws, one by one, to let them flutter elsewhere.

Here’s to the chance that can get me (all of us, really) through the day.

Working May Wonders

It’s May (happy Beltane, if you didn’t get wished one yesterday) and there’s a double sale going on. So the month has started out brilliantly, but I can’t believe we’re almost halfway through the year. Pandemic time has all but broken me. I mean, regular time was bad enough, but one trauma after another since 2016 has burned up and burned out plenty of my coping mechanisms.

The dogs got me up early this morning by being obstreperous brats, and have continued in that vein. I don’t mind much–it was the sort of weekend where I need a few days to recover, though I didn’t do work per se. A lot got done around the house, mostly things I’ve been putting off, which was great on the whole…but not very good for my nerves.

So I’ll take it easy and work a half-day, maybe. It’s time to go back to Hell’s Acre, and also time to get the second Sons of Ymre put to bed. Fortunately I don’t have to do it all today, I just have to make a stab or two. A few wild pokes and the rest of the day (what remains of it) can be spent…I don’t know, reading on the couch or something. I’m working my way through Anaïs Nin’s diaries, (currently on volume 2) and while sometimes they’re maddening, I also enjoy them very much.

I put off reading them for a long time. I suspect I was waiting for this great current uncertainty, so I could read her own great uncertainty in 1937. Knowing what’s coming and whispering “oh honey, no” is oddly comforting. Life goes on, even amid *waves hands* all this. And it’s interesting to see her fall in and out of love; sometimes I want to reach through the pages and shake her. “Anaïs, my dear, he’s just using you, wake up.” Like reading old letters from a young, terribly damaged friend. Then she’ll write about writing, and describe some of my own experience so neatly, so exactly, that I’m caught in grinding envy.

All writers know the feeling.

The new office chair is working wonders, at least. I’m sore all over, but the soreness is that of changing how I use my muscles instead of the sharp or grinding agony triggered by how the old chair forced me to sit. I can already feel the results in hip mobility, and my back is loads better. The stabbing pains in my neck have gone away, so that’s great. I am going to have to start yoga on a more-than-occasional basis, though.

I’m getting older, and writing is brutally hard on the physical body just as it is on the emotional or spiritual one. My emotional aches require different medicine, but at least I can ameliorate the physical ones with a new chair and some stretching. Not to mention grow lights and moving some houseplants into the office, which has done me a world of good.

“You’re becoming the filthy old hippie lady you were born to be,” my daughter said with great seriousness, which cracked us both up.

I do have to note that a kneeling or cross-legged meditation chair not only has effects upon back- and neck-aches, but also upon digestion. Peristalsis is either aided or hindered by the position one spends most of one’s day in. You can imagine, and I’ll leave it at that. I suppose I should stop eating breakfast at the desk, too. It was only ever meant to be a temporary time-saving device, not a long-term habit.

If I am very, very focused and get the things on the to-do list done today, maybe I can play hooky with the space story. (Since the werelion thing is out of my hair at the moment.) It’s a great relief to be back at “I’m juggling two paying projects and something weird that delights only me.” Maybe it means I’m healing, or at least adapting.

The coffee has cooled and I’m on the dregs, Boxnoggin is whining urgently down the stairs for the Mad Tortie to come play with him (she will not, she is far too wise for any of his hijinks) and Miss B is ragefully chewing on her own hindquarters because she wants me to stop clickety-clacking and get her goddamn toast crusts prepared. She can’t eat her plain brekkie kibble, oh no, but gods help me if I don’t share a morsel of my own habitual breakfast. On the day I switch back to gruel she will be ever so irritated. “You wish the Miss B to eat porridge? Like the peasants? Jail for Mother. Jail for Mother for one THOUSAND years!”

All our animals use the Miette voice. Some of the houseplants do, too.

Bright sunshine is pouring through my office window, too, which seems like the final insult. I’m off for brekkie, my beloveds. I hope your Monday is pleasant, and if not, at least calm and quiet.

See you around.

Werelions Wrought

How, in the name of the gods, is it Monday again?

I suppose it didn’t help that I finished the werelion book on Saturday. I predicted a weekend spent working; lo and behold, here we are. The book will probably please nobody but me, but it’s done. Or at least, the zero draft is and I can decide how to go on from here. There’ll be a rough polish before it goes fully up as a serial for a couple months, and during that time there’ll be editing and prep for it to release as an actual book. Then it’ll be off the serial platform (this is the best way to fully try said platform) for a couple months, and after that, it can go out into the world and stop bothering me.

Of course, its bother has retreated to a dull whining sound at the back of my head, and now I’m deep in the throes of snapback. I just did a Friday Tea about snapback; I think the next one this upcoming Friday will be a little bit more about how to recover from a zero. Even if one is sure a completed zero draft is terrible and useless, one has still done something only a relatively small proportion of writers have by actually finishing the damn thing, and that’s worth celebration and praise.

I’ve the next slate of projects queued up in a nice little row–the second Hell’s Acre season, the second Sons of Ymre, the second Tolkien Werewolves book, and by then it’ll be time for the next Steelflower, I think. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be doing The Highlands War as a serial when Hell’s Acre is finished, but that’s months out since the second season of the latter is just as long as the first. Plus there’s the third book in the Ghost Squad series to build since the second is resting with the editor.

But all that is for after I recover. Today and tomorrow will probably be picking at the werelion serial’s bones, so to speak, in order to get the flywheel inside my head to spin down. The massive mental and emotional (not to mention physical, my wrists bloody well ache) effort of getting a usable, novel-length chunk of text means that once the damn thing is finished all that energy is suddenly whipping wildly in the wind, throwing sparks, an engine unconnected to a transmission and revving wildly. Learning how to ride that last, bumpy, decelerating portion of the rollercoaster and stagger off towards another rickety carnival contraption is a large part of the writing game.

Doing it during a still-going pandemic and slow-moving fascist coup is a new one for me, though. All things considered, even if the werelion book is crap, creating anything under these conditions is a victory.

So I’ll be taking it relatively easy for the next couple days, surveying what I have wrought and attempting to find some rest from my labours. The last time a book possessed me like this was Moon’s Knight, and I was super unsure that one would get any readers at all. It seems to be doing all right, so I am taught once again to just let the work go and know the readers will find it. Funny how that works.

I hope your weekend was calm and happy, my friends. Easter, Ramadan, and Passover (not to mention a Hindu festival) all on the same weekend–it seems like everyone should be too busy feasting and celebrating to be awful to each other, especially over religion. I mean, I know humans will fight over literally anything, anytime, anywhere, but it’s a nice thought and today there will be a lot of candy on sale.

That’s called looking on the bright side, as we often do here at the Chez. And now I need to watch Life of Brian again. (“Worse things happen at sea, you know.”) Part of the recovery process for me includes movies, so I guess that’s my afternoon or evening sorted.

Just got to get through the rest of the day first. Better get started on that.

See you around.

Wrack and Brooding

No wonder it shook the house.

That’s just a little of the wrack from the snowstorm–several inches of heavy wet snow, in April. I know this is to be expected in some parts of the world, but not here, my beloveds. No, not here. Thanks, climate change!

And due to everyone in the neighborhood having similar problems, we simply can’t get anyone to deal with it until next week. It’s anyone’s guess whether the roof is intact, or whether it will be once all this is lifted away. Who knows?

I’m going to aim for finishing the zero draft of the werelion book this weekend. Might as well, and it’ll keep me occupied and out of trouble. I simply don’t have the strength to shift any of the remaining big branches, even with the kids’ help, and brooding about what might lie beneath the mess isn’t good for me. Plus, I’m at the point in the bookmaking process where I actively resent anything calling me away from the act of creation. (Though I do plan to do a livestream later today, there are things to talk about.)

See you next week, my dears. I’m hoping for no more wild weather, but if some occurs I might end up in the basement, scribbling in a spiral notebook by the light of an ancient flashlight.

It’s good to have a plan…