Non-Sleep, Reflecting Light

I can’t blame the eclipse, or anything other than the chewing of my brain on itself, for last night’s lack of sleep. Sam Phillips’s Reflecting Light was playing nonstop inside my skull while bits of stories cascaded around, some merging, others breaking apart. Sometimes that happens; the leaves fall in a thick blanket, ready to drift against tree-roots and nourish other saplings.

At least my spine crack-popped every time I rolled over, so my back feels a lot better. Something must have loosened up, and it’s about damn time.

It’s a bright morning, outright sunny in patches, with a damp spring wind. We’re almost to the time of year when a few open windows provide all the climate control the inside of the house needs. Which means Boxnoggin will be beside himself with glee, keeping track of every stray noise and breeze, trotting down the hall to inform me of every change in the neighborhood, leading me out into the living room to witness whatever’s happening in the street.

I think it’s also how he ensures I get enough breaks during the working day. Boxnoggin is an inveterate believer in stopping to smell the roses. And the bushes. And the pavement. And everything else.

Revisions on Klemp’s book (the second Ghost Squad novel) are still underway. I still have no real title for it, but that’s a quandary that doesn’t need solving until later. I want to title it Duty but I don’t want the rest of the series locked into D-words. (Of course, Jackson’s book could be titled Douchebag because he’s a little…problematic. But problematic heroes are fun!) I might just end up titling it what it wants and breaking convention with Tax’s book, which comes next–but I don’t have to write that until I’ve finished the second Sons of Ymre.

No shortage of work, which is of course how I like it.

A thin, trembling calm has descended upon me. Maybe it’s pulling back from social media, maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s building my running mileage back up after bad weather and injury kept me a little more housebound than I’d like. Whatever’s responsible, I don’t care. I’m too busy using the breathing space. And Miss B is still holding steady, though every day I wonder if the inevitable slide downhill will begin again.

She’s eager for walkies, and if I run my own weary corpse today there’s a higher chance of actual sleep tonight. Maybe it’s the weather change keeping me from crawling into sleep’s deep country. Maybe I don’t want to miss out on what time I have left with Miss B. Maybe it’s hormones, or stress. Regardless, I absolutely will not go back to insomnia. Driving myself into the ground has always worked before, so that’s the order of the day. An immense amount of work cries out to be done, and I’m just the mad writer to do it.

At least it’s not still Monday. Yesterday felt bloody endless. A fresh new day with a whole new set of mistakes to make looms.

I suppose I’d best get started.

Perpetual Endeavors

A hazy dawn is rising, and I woke up with Hell’s Acre moving and shifting inside my head. Looks like the serial will be two seasons after all, because the last lingering bit I needed for the back half just dropped into place and it’s a rawther elegant solution, if I do say so myself. Pulling the story off Vella did a great deal of good–I still have an experiment lingering there, though not under my real name. The platform treated me so dreadfully over a support ticket I don’t want my name associated with it.

In any case, it’s a Thursday, and I had a run planned but what with one thing or another it will have to be some yoga instead. The dogs are eager for walkies–Miss B in particular is attempting to get me on her schedule instead of the other way ’round. It is a perpetual endeavor, one she has been engaged in for well over a decade (we’ve been together a while) and I think her baffled spite when it doesn’t work is part of the reason she’s still in such good shape.

Spite is a wonderful motivator. Keeps one young at heart, and all that.

I have to feel out the dimensions of the gap in the VC Andrews/Cat People werewolf story, because I know what needs to happen but I don’t quite see how to get there yet. And in Sons of Ymre #2 I have left the heroine feeling rather badly now that she’s discovered a few things about her monster-hunting protector, and I don’t quite know if she’s going to try to wriggle out the window before the other monster hunters get there. She’s seriously considering it, I think it’s a bad idea, and we’re hashing it out. The process takes time.

I was able to settle in bed last night and knock off a respectable bit of Fire in the Lake. I’m gutting it out; it’s slow going, especially with the stress of current events. After this I have some of Anais Nin’s diaries to read. I splurged a bit (call it research, that’s what I’m doing) and bought a set. I’ve always wanted to read them, and now is a good time to cross that off my bucket list. Once I wend my way through the set I’ll see if the itch is scratched. At least there’s no shortage, Nin was prolific.

Still trying not to look at the news. The world’s pain is prowling just outside my mental doors, eager to rush in and consume me. Of course I feel terrible that I can’t do more, that I’m sitting here writing my little stories as the burning intensifies. It’s all I can do. On my better days I tell myself that people need stories, need escape and catharsis, now more than ever. On my worse, there’s nothing else I can do anyway so I might as well get some work done while I’m waiting for the mushroom cloud.

The worse days predominate lately. Any optimism I might have been able to lay claim to has been severely strained.

So I just keep swimming. Gary Moore is playing inside my skull this morning too, while the plot-building machine whirrs and jolts. I’m also thinking about tomorrow’s tea–we’ll talk about the difference between the Inner Editor and the Internal Censor, always a fun time. I’ve finally reached the point where I’m exporting old teas to YouTube, where they can live after they drop off Twitch’s two-week cycle. We’ll see how long this experiment lasts. My agent tells me I’m witty and personable, but all I feel in front of a camera is doltish, atavistic fear. At that point my most devout hope is that nobody is watching, which I suppose defeats the purpose of the whole thing? It’s irrational on many levels, but I trust my agent and if she says to try this, I suppose I should.

Well, frankly, she wanted me to TikTok, but that’s a lot of work for no return at all and I’m already in publishing, I’ve got enough of that, thanks.

I should bring this to a close and get toast underway. Miss B just perked up as I glanced at her–she can sense, with unfailing canine intuition, that I am about to cave and give her what she wants. Action! Adventure! A stroll around the block, during which she gets to sniff all her favourite things and be cranky at Boxnoggin’s exuberance! And finally, the pièce de résistance, a treat when we return home, because her owner is a sucker and she is, after all, an elderly statesdog who has turned in years of diligent work.

Have a lovely Thursday, my dears. Today’s subscription drop is prepped and scheduled, and I have plenty of work to keep me occupied. If the day behaves we might reach the end without having to get out the baseball bat.

Maybe I’m more of an optimist than I thought…

Not Quite Stunt

Well, it’s Thursday. I got a lot done yesterday, including some semi-reasonable wordcount, hallelujah. Swimming against the weight of the world–current events, administrivia, this that and the other, all the things it uses to try to keep one from creative endeavor–is a risky and exhausting business. Maybe it’s not really the world but human systems of exploitation, but the difference is scant on a practical level.

There’ll be sometime special for subscribers today, and it’s pleasant to anticipate that. There’s also a sale going on now, another sale pending, and a release later this month. I feel like I’m chasing my own tail to a ridiculous degree, even for 2022.

I also have to get to the bloody post office. I keep putting it off because the pandemic is still going strong, but there are things to send and I can’t wait any longer.

Ugh. Leaving the house, my least favorite thing. At least I have plenty of masks and can largely arrange things so I’m in and out during the off hours. Someone vandalized the PO boxes during lockdown, so one can’t go in after-hours anymore. (This is why we can’t have nice things, ARGH.)

I’m still juggling Hell’s Acre (got the knife fight finished yesterday, hooray) and Sons of Ymre #2 (it’s about time to get our monster hunters caught by the larger monster-hunting organization), not to mention the Sooper-Sekrit Projekt. The last alternately delights and terrifies me, but trick writing is like that. It’s not quite stunt writing, but it’s close. The best thing is stuffing in all sorts of references and knowing that some of them will only be understood by me. Easter eggs for readers are great, and for writers? Well, they’re one reason to continue with this benighted career.

Among others.

The dogs are now lobbying for toast-crusts, and that means it’s almost time for walkies, not to mention the morning run. After I sweat through a few kilometres I’ll feel better, and may even be able to face the day without wishing I could reach for my baseball bat.

Maybe.

Hang in there, beloveds. We’re almost to Friday, after all…

Wise and Motivated…Nah

“It’s Wednesday,” I told myself yesterday. “You don’t have to run, you don’t have to stream. All you have to do is write. Hey, you can even get ahead on the two paying projects, right?”

I agreed with myself. I felt very wise and motivated. And then…

…I wrote 6k on the werewolf erotica I’ll probably never publish. *headdesk*

I’m not mad, though. Apparently I just needed to crawl into a story and not come out for a while. No stakes, no real danger, just me and some super-dumb characters doing weird things while rain swept the roof and the dogs power-napped. They were exhausted by all the water falling from the sky, I guess.

And it was lovely. My wrists hurt a little, but that’s to be expected. Ice and stretching all day, and I honestly intend to get back to paying work. I mean, it can’t always be werewolf pr0n. I do have a combat scene in Hell’s Acre to get onto (pretty sure Avery’s going to try a fancy knife-drop-catch thing before someone special shows up to save his bacon, and I need that blocked out to a fare-thee-well before writing) and I’ve got to get the pair of monster hunters caught by the big monster-hunting organization before too much longer, since I pretty much know the turn in the second Sons of Ymre book now. There’s no shortage of work.

I just hope I won’t be seduced into the werewolf story again. I know how it ends, but there’s another 70-80k to get there and the damn thing is already in the neighborhood of 86k. It’s just so…big.

*snork*

Anyway, the world is still on fire, though a nasty bully seems to be getting some kind of comeuppance. Of course it’s hurting his victims at home more than it’s hurting him at this point, and the body count will only rise before he’s levered out of power, and plenty of his coevals and henchmen will probably escape scot-free…but at least it’s something, I guess.

I put a dollop of bacon grease in the dogs’ kibble bowls this morning. Boxnoggin turned up his nose, but Miss B dug in her bowl until she found the prize, then proceeded to casually stroll over to Boxnoggin’s bowl and do the same. She did get plenty of kibble with it–I’m no fool, I mashed it all together for just this occasion–and it will keep her coat nice and shiny. And Boxnoggin will have nobody to blame but himself when he condescends to finally put his nose in his brekkie-bowl and discovers there was once bacon grease, but now there is none. He will make a huge production over it, I’m sure, and will beg extra hard for toast scraps from my own breakfast and/or lunch.

I’m trying not to look at the news more than a few times per day. Doomscrolling isn’t good for anyone, and each nadir I reach when the world bursts into fresh flame is a little lower than the last. Endurance is my specialty, but this is fucking ridiculous. Even the absurdity isn’t helping.

In any case, I should get the morning’s toast choked down and the dogs walked. It looks like a reasonably un-cloudy day, which I hate, and I will have to get my morning run out of the way before the sun rises too high. Otherwise there will be people all over the sidewalk, emerging blinking from their holes into bright sunlight, and who needs that? Not a curmudgeon like me, certainly. I’d wish for more rain, but even my gloomy self understands saturated earth needs a moment or two to rest and let some runoff happen. I’ll settle for being cranky until I get back home and shut my door on the outside world.

Maybe I’ll give myself a little bit of werewolf writing after dinner today. As a treat, you understand. I definitely won’t spend another day head-down in something that’ll never sell. Honestly.

Yup. Sure. Imagine me staring into the camera, The Office-style. Best-laid plans, and all that.

See you around, beloveds.

Education in Continuing

At least the radio in my head received a jolt (probably from the rain) so this morning it’s playing Kim Carnes. It’s not that I minded the Michael Bolton or Leo Sayer, but I was ready for a change.

There was a lot of rain, even for this part of the world. It was pretty glorious, though I did have to wring myself out when I arrived home after a run. Even Miss B, who is normally an all-weather pooch, was giving me resentful “why the hell are you doing this?” looks during walkies. And of course the tree trunks are still wet, glistening black and damp.

Not only that, but I did get some work done yesterday once the shakes and anxiety from streaming died down. The Tea with Lili experiment is still going strong, and I’m hoping that in time I’ll become desensitized to performance anxiety. I mean, I never want to get completely comfortable in front of a camera, but a little less like my heart might explode from sheer panic? That I would like, very much. I am hoping against hope it’s not like the anxiety from book releases, which seems to never ever get better even if my coping mechanisms become fractionally more effective each time.

I figured out the problem in Hell’s Acre. Avery didn’t want to engage upon the rooftop battle without at least seeing a certain lady first, and said “chance” meeting was a good move structurally to bracket the fight. So now Gemma knows something is amiss, Avery has drawn the attackers away, and today if the gods let me I can finally write a scene that’s been in my head since I started this damn serial. Writing this particular story during pandemic has been…interesting. If I were to be charitable I could call it an education in continuing under extreme stress, but I’ve already had a few of those and don’t need any more, thanks.

Shame the world isn’t listening.

I also got almost the daily complement of wordcount in on Sons of Ymre #2, tentatively titled Stray Dog but that will change. I like the Mifune overtones, though. (I should watch that movie again.) It’s about time for some kind of chase. The “hero” (I hesitate to call him that at this point) is desperately trying to keep things together without admitting he has no idea what to do, which is a terrible place for someone who prizes competence–and indeed, builds their whole identity around it–to be in.

He deserves every moment of agony and angst, frankly, yet I still feel bad. Once he’s groveled enough he’ll get a bone or two. I’m pretty terrible to my heroes, but we knew that.

There’s a slight break in the rain, and Miss B is at my knee, resting her chin and reminding me she has not been walked yet today, thank you, and would really like her silly human to get on that instead of staring at the glowing box and making clicky-clicky sounds. I often wonder what she thinks typing is, or if she just consigns it to the realm of cosmic riddles she’ll never unravel. So much of what her biped does is probably mystifying in the extreme.

The world is still burning, and I feel guilty for the grace and peace I am granted. I’m trying not to look at the news, and trying not to think about historical parallels. Today’s run should help; yesterday’s purged a bit of stress and I’m looking forward to burning off yet more panic-chemicals this morning. In order to do that, though, I should swallow some toast and get the dogs walked before this break in the weather is over. It can dump rain on me all day and I don’t mind, but Miss B is old and Boxnoggin slick-coated, and neither of them needs another dunking for a while. I’m sure they’d be very happy to hear me say that.

Courage, my friends. And I say this because it helps me remember. Chin up, mask on (fuck you, CDC, I will not sacrifice immunocompromised friends or strangers), and baseball bats ready, let us stride into Tuesday.

There’s work to be done.

Damp and Dry

Thursday has dawned misty-rainy. All day yesterday we had thickening fog-drizzle, the kind that penetrates every layer of clothing within fifteen minutes though you could swear it’s just a bit of cloud. The cloud, however, comes right down to earth and lingers, turning even treebark slick and wet.

I love this part of the world. Climate change will probably wreak terrifying havoc upon it, so I’m enjoying while I can. Really, the Pacific Northwest is perfect–moss on the trees every winter, rainy grey for most of the year so you can hear yourself think, nice even temperatures only rarely freezing or frying, trees everywhere, a relative lack of bite-y venomous things. It’s like it was made for me.

I’m told that statistically the PNW leads in coffee shops and serial killers too–on that last point, maybe we’re just good at catching them? I dunno. But certainly the entire area is awash with caffeine, which suits me right down to the (soggy) ground as well.

So far the area under the kitchen sink remains dry, though I am still irked at the home warranty company’s Very Bad Behavior, especially during a pandemic. I’m weighing my options on that front, putting off a decision until my irritation leaves the cold, quiet stage. If there is a single drip more…but let’s not think about that, it’s such lovely weather.

Very early Wednesday morning I woke up knowing how to solve the blockage in Hell’s Acre. True to form, the Muse, who did the original planning, is now unsatisfied with said original planning and wants to toss everything out and redo the last half of the book. Fine. It will end on a cliffhanger if it goes the way she wants–again, fine. I am not sure I’ll write the second book resolving said cliffhanger, though, for a collage of reasons. Which may or may not be fine, but we’ll see.

At least the realization meant I could get actual work done yesterday, which I haven’t been able to do for days. Between the stress of needing strangers to visit the house (the workmen masked up, we all obeyed precautions, but still, it’s bloody nerve-wracking) and dealing with the home warranty company’s petulant, money-grubbing refusal to live up to their responsibilities, I didn’t have the bloody energy. Plus there’s been an uptick in harassment, and that takes energy to deal with even if one has mitigation in place.

It also looks like that One Viral Thread has been taken over to the cesspit that is Facebook, so I’m sure I’ll be getting a flood through the contact form on that front. Harassers’ IPs and linguistic oddities are logged automatically, though, and retained for safety reasons.

There’s also been a rise in the incidence of Well Actuallys, Reply Guys, Debate Mes, and the like, especially on my funny little threads. (Like the recent Dracula in Sears bit.) Apparently Banana Truthers, Sears Truthers, the Historical Denim Brigade, and all that cohort are all very angry with me. It’s nice of them to show themselves in such unambiguous terms; my Block Party queue has been getting quite a workout.

Go figure, my contribution to the zeitgeist will be squirrel tales and the enragement of Banana Truthers. The amount of amusement I get from contemplating this outcome is immense, and borders upon deep satisfaction. Laughing at the absurdity is better than a number of other coping mechanisms, so I suppose I should thank them, just to be polite.

I get to run in the rain today, and the dogs will get walkies–yesterday they were obstreperous brats, and I didn’t feel like dragging them through the mist to get over it. Of course they’ll be doubly bratty today; I only put off the inevitable. But some days, that’s all one can do.

Then I get to come home, do the last-minute brushing-and-folding on the week’s subscription drop, and the rest of the day is mine to do with as I will. Which will be banging my head upon Hell’s Acre, with a bonus few hours spent on Sons of Ymre #2. Still no word on when #1 will drop, I’m just told “soon.” Everyone is having scheduling difficulties these days; patience is the watchword.

And all day there will be the grey outside my window, the dripping branches, the rain-slick rhododendrons and bubble-wet moss. It is soothing, and wonderful, and I love every moment of it.

It’ll do, my friends. It’ll do.

Victory, Price, Laughter

I should have known that every victory on the first Monday of 2022 would exact a price. It was going so well, too! I finally got repair for the dishwasher and the kitchen sink scheduled, not to mention some actual work on Hell’s Acre and Sons of Ymre #2. I went to bed feeling reasonably content, even if things are not exactly ideal.

Alas, Past Me was apparently an unforgivable optimist. But maybe I’ll feel better about her habit of being hopeful after coffee. I suppose writing while uncaffeinated, as I am currently doing, means a touch of growl seeping into my voice.

The upshot of all this is that there’s errands today. Hopefully I can get them done with a minimum of fuss and retreat homeward, giving ground very slowly and making the year work for every inch it gains. The stage after the loss of sunny optimism is grim determination, teeth sunk into the hide of the monster and my claws working deeper and deeper, seeking a vital hit.

On the bright side, the heroine in Sons #2 is talking. She’s far different than the heroine in #1, which is only to be expected, and I think she’s just exactly what’s needed. But I made a mistake in the very first scene, and it’s such a deep and integral one I have to go back, rip out three-quarters of what I did yesterday, and rework it.

Of course, I’ll probably find out after reworking that said heroine won’t talk unless I have it the way it was originally written, which means I’ll need to throw out most of what I planned for the book itself and restructure from the ground up simply because a single character simply won’t cooperate.

I am not quite complaining about this, mind you. Realizing a mistake earlier rather than later is a gift. Plus, it’s far better than being so stressed the words refuse to come out at all, which has only happened two-three times in my entire life and is so awful I never, ever, ever want to endure it again. I’m trying to find the funny side–I’m arguing with the voices inside my head while my entire career is telling lies (which, let it be noted, manage to show a certain truth if I’ve done my job right) for a living.

Put that way, it is indeed kind of funny. So is the prospect of each individual errand I have to run today. They’re all hilarious if I look at them the right way.

Gods grant me the strength to hold up each one and turn it to the light in order to catch that funny side, however small and bleak. No doubt I’ll feel much better after a morning run, too. Yesterday was my first day back on the pavement in about a week (what with holidays, disasters, and Bad Weather making it Literally Unsafe To Step Outside) and the endorphin hit was most welcome, indeed. Plus it’s been over two weeks since our booster shots, so every single person in the house is as protected as possible.

There’s going to be something funny in all this. There has to be, and by every god that ever was, I will find it. If I must go down nibbled to death by a tidal wave of papercuts, I will go down laughing. Sure, it might be screamy breathless merriment, but merriment nonetheless.

Laughter is one of the 100% reliable ways to banish demons, after all. And now it’s time to finish this coffee, get the caffeine worked into my muscles, and walk the dogs, who could not care less about the rest of the world as long as they get their kibble, snuggles, and other assorted daily rituals.

If you hear a faint, screeching laugh upon the wind, beloveds, don’t worry. It’s just me.

Let the Tuesday games begin.