Is it Wednesday already?…

Is it Wednesday already? My time sense is thrown all off.

The pangs of post-Clarion are somewhat assuaged by the coalescing e-mail group. Soon we will have a Clarion web page too, hooray! The group lives...

Life still proceeds moderately quiet. I find myself cooking whatever random things I find in the fridge (last night I fried some onions, added chopped chicken, basil and a red chili. Don't ask me why. It wasn't bad over pasta) rather than planning enough to go to the grocery store. Maybe tomorrow. (I will have probably run out of fridge things by then.) I'm running out of ways to procrastinate -- soon I will have to actually work.

They told us at Clarion not to be surprised if we couldn't write for weeks or months after Clarion. They said that was common, as our brains attempted to integrate everything we'd learned. Fair enough, but unfortunately I have deadlines. Not just the Puritan and Sizzle ones, which don't thankfully require my best writing, but I'd like to get Deep in Sea revised (majorly so) and send it out for the last Windling/Datlow Fairy Tales anthology (must remember to get the address from Leah, and the deadline). I have a definite love/hate relationship with deadlines. On the one hand, I generally feel as if I could have done a better job with a piece if I'd had more time -- on the other, undoubtedly many pieces wouldn't get finished without a looming deadline.

Especially now. I feel paralyzed, almost scared to write. I want my work to be different, better -- and of course, it won't be yet. I know that in my head, but still...

It's not writer's block. I know I can sit down and write. It's simply insecurity, fear. I'm a person who likes immediate small goals and rewards -- and I like them clear-cut. Why did I pick a life where that just doesn't happen, where both goals and rewards and even process are rather vague and ill-defined? Eh. No need to answer that -- I do know the answers. I'm just whinging (did I spell that right, Brits?), don't mind me. I'll feel a lot better once I get up off my ass and actually write something.

12:45 - Well, I did go to the grocery store. Picked up a lot of fruit, to hopefully help me lose the 5 pounds I put on at Clarion (sitting and writing and only walking to and from class is not conducive to a fit body). Procrastinated further by starting an old Phyllis Ann Karr novel and by putting together a list of important people mentioned in this journal for your amusement and edification. Hopefully none of them will mind. Am rapidly running out of things to procrastinate on. Down to less than 15 old mail messages to deal with. Clothes almost all put away. Dishes done. Have figured out how to keep the house cool with curtains closed so that while the place is dimly lit, it is no longer painfully warm so I don't have that excuse anymore. Meep. (Have I explained meep to you? It is the sound a small animal makes when it is run over by something very big. General pathetic distress.) Maybe I can dust.

Who am I kidding? I never dust. (Truly, the rest of my housekeeping is generally quite good, even compulsive. Somehow I never got into dusting.) I could procrastinate simply by writing exceedingly long journal entries, thereby enlisting all of you unwittingly in aiding my writing avoidance behavior. Enablers is the term, I believe.

But no. Sadly, I cannot be quite that self-deceptive. I will not write more in this journal today. So there.

8:50 -- All right. I lied. I'm back again when I said I wouldn't be today. It was this or the television, and considering that we don't even have a television, that I would have to figure out exactly how it is that Ian hooked up his speakers to the vcr to the computer monitor (and where is he, you ask? he's off with his SO, who's been gone for a week, and I'm sure they're being delightfully mushy together (what, is that a hint of annoyance in your virtual voice? Oh, maybe. Dammit, I wouldn't mind spending this evening being mushy myself, except for this little problem of thousands of miles....okay, okay. Enough self pity. I should know better than to write in here this late at night. I did decide to go away to grad school, right? My choice. Argh.)) -- I'm not going to watch tv. I've spent the last hour reading newsgroups which has reminded me mostly why I stopped reading newsgroups several months ago. What an amazing time sink. Not that this is necessarily much better, but at least I'm writing instead of reading -- especially instead of reading amazingly inane arguments (on misc.writing even! I expected better. And that damn To Angi thread is still going and going and going on alt.poly...) that I really have no interest in. It's sad and frustrating to watch intelligent people trying really really hard to get through to people who have no interest in being got through to. Especially frustrating when your own fingers are just itching to leap into the fray. Which has gotten me in much trouble in the past, let me tell you.

Here, let me break up my little rant with a paragraph break before I dissolve into utter incoherence and illegibility. *deep breath*

I'm not going to tell you exactly where I got into such trouble because it's really bad enough that my teenage idiocies are permanently archived without my going around telling people exactly where.

Tomorrow will be a sane day. Tomorrow I will get up and write. I damn well have to, 'cause I have 9000 words due for Puritan that I have to ship by Saturday and the 2400 words I have thus far are just not going to cut it on their ownsome. I will write from 6:30 until 9:30, and then, having calmly and professionally finished 3000 words (hah!), I will get a ride from my kind roommate Cliff over into the city to meet my friend Elissa who is in town visiting her in-laws. I will take her away for lunch and a nice walk through around the de Young or possibly the Asian Arts Museum. Then we will come back to my place, visually and spiritually refreshed. We will consider whether will join Brian (not her Bryan. Another Brian. With an I.) at a pub for conversation and relaxation. Eventually we will sleep, having spent much time in catching up and friendly gossiping. Doesn't that sound nice?

*sigh* The plans always sound so nice. So orderly. So efficient. If only life actually worked that way.

I started writing a poem called "Inertia Blues" -- but it was too much work. You think I'm kidding. I had a whole verse before I gave up.

I ought to read. Or put away the laundry. I could call someone, but almost everyone's in the wrong damn time zone. I am *not* going to go turn on the tv. Y'all can just listen to me whine instead.

Okay, no whining. Surely there's something interesting I can tell you? Something interesting I can do? How 'bout a writing exercise, hot off the presses, just for you. No editing, I promise. Limited timeframe. Maybe that'll turn up something worthwhile, and the no editing adds a certain frisson, a slice of danger to the work.

Paging through the idea generation Clarion sheets, I find one that I ought to be good at by now. We'll see. The assignment: describe a character through the eyes of a point of view character (any person) who lusts after that character. No cliches.)

Go.


It's the skin. So coarse. Like sand on the strand. What would it be like to run your smoothness up against that skin. Dark; not dirt-dark or tree trunk-dark but dark where my Lady is pale, rough where she is smooth, solid. There. What would it be like to pull that smock from her body? My Lady has called her 'cow', and so she is in comparison to that perfect Her. Breasts that hang full and heavy, built for nursing squalling human babes. Wide hips, so unlike my Lady's slenderness. If She had a child, it might tear Her in two -- yet another reason there are so few of us. But this one, this human woman, she would have no trouble. They would slip out of her, while she laughed, as she is laughing now, her head tipped back and black hair fluttering in Puck's breeze. I could put out a hand now and stay his mischief. I could take her to me, maze this human woman, barely more than a girl, with love and lust and faerie dreams.

She would come to me at dusk, her brown eyes wide and simple. I would lift that ugly smock from her body, her vibrant, aging mortal body. In the darkness of the woods, our limbs entwined amidst the death and decay of the forest floor, musty mushrooms and tattered autumn leaves -- ah, but it is summer now. The leaves are green, green as her body in this blush of youth, in this blinding temporary mortal beauty that my Lady pales beside. The stars are always there, but the sun outshines them all, for a little while. Only a little while. Until then, let the ripe rutting scent rise through the woods; let me join my body with this wide-hipped, cow-breasted girl; let me plunge into her dark and steaming depths and forget that I am ever immortal, ever lost.


Sadly interrupted by a phone call on the other line but I tried not to think about it until I got back to the computer. Not bad. I'm afraid I worked in two other assignments while I was at it -- one from the Clarion sheets which says: write from the viewpoint of somebody or something not human, conveying to the reader what sort of being or thing this is, without using its own name or describing itself. I cheated a bit on that, but that's okay as far as I'm concerned 'cause it was a secondary exercise. And the third overlap is that M. Christian is reading for an erotic Midsummer Nights' Dream anthology right now, and I've been vaguely thinking of submitting something to that. Perhaps this will be a seed.

It's funny how I work much better with restraints. (Stop laughing, you.) Seriously -- whether it's poetic formalistm or anthology requests or deadlines, it seems like the more restraints on the story, the easier it is for me to write. Fewer decisions to be made, I suppose. There's such a universe of possibilities.

Ah, it is now 9:45, and I have sufficiently whiled away the time that I think I can safely brush my teeth and go to bed. I do believe I hear a roommate at the door as well.

Thank you for keeping me company, my invisible readers, my silent (mostly) horde. I do wonder again how many of you there are. Perhaps I will ask Dale to check the stats again for me. I hope I haven't annoyed you too much with the multiple updates today...you have certainly helped me, rescuing me from the evil tv spectre. Thank you and good night.

(Oh, will I regret this entry in the morning?)

I’m cheating a little…

I'm cheating a little and doing this Monday night, just so I don't forget. I've just added the three columns written so far to the columns and interviews page. If you have time to take a look and tell me if they look okay, that'd be appreciated. I'm a bit nervous about them.

Mornin', dears. Another beautiful morning; I can just hope that it doesn't get as painfully hot today as it did yesterday. I'm waffling between disappearing to campus or holing up in the basement, in Ian's room, today. We'll see.

Got some good news today -- a new Wizardry book by Duane, The Book of Night with Moon. She's possibly the only person I'd trust to tell an entire novel from the point of view of cats. The first chapter's on the web page, and the rest will be out in November in the States. I guess I can wait that long. Sigh.

No desire to write yet. Not sure what to do with the day, as a result. I really do need to go to campus sometime soon and talk to the financial aid people; maybe I'll take laptop, swimsuit and go do that today. The pool opens at 1:00...

My mood is finally calming down, though getting e-mail from Rob this morning made me briefly mopey again. Time to get back into the regular swing of things. Planning to do a lot of reading today, finishing the Pat Murphy and starting a book Lisette really liked and lent me, Chitra Divakaruni's The Mistress of Spices. I'll let you know how it is. The Murphy has been solidly good so far, though nothing yet as brilliant as I found her first novel. I've heard very good things about one of the last stories in the collection, though, "Rachel in Love".

2:35 - Well. I walked to campus, finishing the Murphy on the way. Good. I dealt with the financial aid stuff -- all's well, and I'll be able to go to school this fall. That's reassuring. I alternated swimming and reading the Divakaruni book, which was excellent. Really really good -- go read it. The sun and book and water all combined to make me feel pretty content, y'know? As if I'd been ill, but was now gently convalescent.

And then I stopped by the library and logged on and read Ceej's journal for the last four days and now I'm weeping again. In the damned library.

I guess you could say I'm not fully recovered yet.

Well, overslept again…

Well, overslept again today. I did wake up at 5:30, but was so tired, that I went back to sleep and didn't get up until 7:00. I *am* going to get back on my Clarion schedule, but perhaps my body needed the extra sleep.

Am doing somewhat better today. Woke up and hit the grocery store, made muffins, started unpacking. Have a lot of financial school stuff to get through and hopefully fix today. Things that should have been mailed out while I was at Clarion. Oops.

Nice music on, a beautiful day, Cliff and Naomi both here to keep me company (Cliff was at Clarion East this summer, which has given us a lot to talk about as we compare notes (they didn't have a kitchen! poor babies...). I'm generally feeling much better, though still struck with occasional bouts of pure misery missing people. Alex, if you're reading this, write me, dammit. I don't have accurate contact info for you.

5:25 - Quiet day. It's too damn hot here (okay, it's probably under 80, but it's still too damn hot). I think tomorrow I'll get up early and go somewhere air-conditioned to work. I've spent most of today napping (still tired!), reading with pleasure Pat Murphy's collection Points of Departure, and futzing around on the web page fixing bits and streamlining. Finally got around to adding credits to that lovely painting on my home page. Fixed some broken links (thanks, Shmuel!). Dealt with old e-mail.

I have piles of stories to revise, but I'm giving myself a week of recovery time before I start feeling guilty about those. I do have to finish the erotic mystery for Puritan by August 11 (actually, the 10th, so it can be in Jeff's hot little hands by the 11th). Also should write some stuff for Sizzle, as my bills are starting to look worrisome. Kev's loaning me money to tide me over until various checks arrive, but I *hate* borrowing money from people, and want to pay him back ASAP.

Listening to lots of CD's I've missed while gone, esp. Flash Girls. I think I told you guys about that one, right? Emma Bull's group? Also various Celtic music things. I must have been a Celt in a previous life. There is no other explanation for my obsession with these people

I have been difficult and moody and silent to my friends. Sherman has been very patient, but I think he is worried. Cliff, luckily, understands. I talked to Kevin for an hour and a half last night, which did a lot towards making me feel me sane. Helped remind me of all the good things in this part of my life. Still feel a bit battered though (there was a time when Bob was trying to come up with a metaphor for a type of teleportation where there was a moment of 'tearing'...I offered the idea of a huge band-aid all over your body, suddenly being ripped away. He didn't use it in the story (smart Bob), but it does rather describe how I feel these days).

Spent some hours…

Spent some hours annotating the Clarion sections of my journal and collecting them here. You may enjoy the annotations.

Woke up a little late (6:30), but did get up and work. I'd really like to maintain my Clarion schedule -- we'll see how well it fits into my everyday life. Time for breakfast and then perhaps a hike through the woods. We'll see...it's a bit gloomy today. Reflects my mood.

3:45 - Well, a nice day so far. Breakfast with Cliff, Sherman, Ian. Nice to be home with my boys again. I was rather mopey still, but they tried diligently to cheer me up. Then grocery shopping and home again. Started lunch. Decided to stop and go have a driving lesson with Sherman. (I'm learning stick!) We stopped at his parents' house (near parking lot where we were to drive), and they pressed much old stuff of his on him. A friend of the family has moved into his old room. He doesn't seem too traumatized. :-)

In the driving lesson, I drove for over an hour, shifted successfully into 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears, stalled the car only infuriatingly often (as opposed to impossibly often), realized that the impulse to drive too fast when frustrated and tired and irritated is almost irresistable, and managed not to kill either Sherman or myself. Terror is a good antidote to depression. Felt moderately proud of myself when finished.

Home again for a late lunch, and now we're waffling over what to do next. I fear the trip to the woods will have to be placed second to cleaning the sadly neglected house. Ian tried, I'm sure...and it's not TOO awful. But Naomi arrives for a week's visit tonight, and I'd like the place to look its best. Sherman is not entirely in favor of this plan, but I think I will win. :-)

It’s over. Really truly…

It's over. Really truly over. Utterly inappropriate fragments of poems running through my head -- "They were my north, my south, my east, my west, / My working week and my Sunday rest, / My moon, my midnight, my talk, my song; / I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong."

Wandering through the dorm this morning was hard. Woke up at five and packed. Breakfast by the fountain with Alex (and later Leah). Back to say more goodbyes. Goodbye goodbye goodbye. Rob looked shattered. He's going back to France -- so far away. If any of you are English-speaking writers living in France, let me know, okay? He's so isolated there. I was too stressed to cry. Just felt ill. Wound up so tight. I was envious of those (Ceej, Nancy, Leah...) who were crying. Tried to give Alex a copy of my book, and he insisted on buying it, supporting my work. Silly, stubborn Brit. A stranger moved into Barbara's room, an old man. How dared he? Almost broke down when Bob hugged me in the elevator, as we were seeing Leah out. Held together all the way to the airport, later. Read and slept on the plane, trying not to think. Have been alternating between glad to be back and desperately missing them ever since.

I'm going to try not to inundate you with weepiness over the next week or so, but bear with me. This will take some time to assimilate. I keep thinking I hear their voices -- in the airport, down the hall.

Sad. Sorrowful. …

Sad. Sorrowful. Triumphant. Exhausted. I have my certificate, autographs, secret decoder ring. I must pack. I will party. I will undoubtedly weep.

Two things I've learned from Nicola and the group and the experience:

When writing, you must:
1. Be faithful to the terrible truth, the deepest part of you, the hardest things. And once you've found that, torn it out of you, dripped and shoved and splashed it on the page...
2. Do the work. Don't take the easy paths -- take the hard ones. I could fill this space with lovely metaphors, but it all comes down to doing the work.

I don’t think I’ve told…

I don't think I've told you guys about the dawns here yet.

I wake up around 5:30 usually -- sometimes a little earlier, sometimes later. This is about an hour before my Bay Area wake-up time...I hope I can keep it up when I go home. Mornings are when I write.

At 5-ish in Seattle, from my window, you look out over a cityscape of bright beaconed buildings. The sky has just gotten a little light, but the main illumination is still coming from the buildings. On the horizon are two large buildings -- one square in front of me that looks rather like a state capitol building; one off to the far left that looks sort of church-ish. Sharply silhouetted.

Pink streaks across the sky at first, then golden, then orange. This process lasts about half an hour, and is the time when I'm puttering around, making the bed, showering and brushing teeth, straightening my desk and preparing to work. By the time the first gold edge of sun pushes up over the edge of the city, my room is neat, and I'm staring at either the papers on my desk or my computer.

These have been my mornings, for the most part, over the last six weeks. I'm going to miss them.

This last week has been a little unusual -- Alex ran out of breakfast cereal, and we've been leaving around 6ish to go work at Cafe Paradiso. We've done that occasionally before, but it's been rather a regular thing this week. Another thing to miss. They know our names at Paradiso now, and what we're likely to order. (Alex gets an iced latte or orange juice and onion bagel with cream cheese. I get a hot chocolate or an orange juice or chai. Sometimes a bread product later. I can't eat first thing in the morning.) We read and crit and talk more than we should. His company has immeasurably brightened this Clarion for me. He'll likely either be staying in New York or moving back to England -- both too far away.

There are others I will miss. This is what is on all of our minds now. I am very glad to have gotten to know Naomi again. Rick and Nancy are two of the sanest people I know. There is definitely something to be said for not being in your twenties anymore. :-) Therese is beautiful, both in herself and her writing. (I look at her and I think 'yes! everyone should wear earth tones' -- and then I realize it's not the earth tones, it's her.) Kate...I don't know how to explain Kate. I want her in S.F. I'm trying to persuade her.

There are more, but I can't describe these people. Ceej does a better job of it. Each and every one of them has touched me. They can all write. As I get to the end of this it becomes utterly apparent how rare such an experience is. To be in the company of seventeen kindred souls, people who care deeply about character and voice and story and words, about the heart of who you are and what you believe in -- this is a richness I never expected. I undertook Clarion so lightly. I was told it would be good networking. I thought I might learn something (and I have. Gods, yes). I didn't know I would learn to love so many, so quickly.

This has been a great gift.

Crazy day, my darlings. …

Crazy day, my darlings. Got "Deep with Sea" critiqued -- consensus: promising, but flawed. Which I knew, thank the deity. Still ill-making getting critiqued, but I supposed I must get used to it.

Ditto ill-making on readings, one of which is soon. Must go revise Amanda in hopes of reading it there.

Am behind on deadline for Puritan with erotic mystery. Dammit. Wrote 2500 words this morning, and I think I can finish it by Friday, but that's a week later than when I thought I could get it done by (though still on time for the original deadline). Must do unpleasant phone call to Jeff and say "when do you absolutely have to have this buy" and hope the answer is next Monday and not last Friday.

Too frantic to write much else -- will have more time tomorrow. Later, gator...

A good day. Suzy…

A good day. Suzy Charnas was wonderful last week, in a very sane, remind us of the realities kind of way. But I find Nicola Griffith (in addition to being really cute and having a wonderful British accent) truly inspiring. She asked us to pick our two favorite books for class today, and think about them, and think about why we liked them. Not books we admired or thought were great, necessarily -- just our favorites, the ones we read over and over and over again. Mine were the Fionavar Tapestry by Kay and Hamlet, although Diane Duane's Star Trek books almost beat Hamlet out. The most often chosen was The Lord of the Rings, which would definitely be in my top ten. It was a great exercise because it reminded us why we love fiction, why we love to write, what we're *doing* in this job. As she said, the pay sucks, you get no respect, the hours are shitty, and there's no one giving you medical benefits. There are lots of reasons for doing this (the appreciation and understanding of your readers being one of the top reasons), but if you don't absolutely love fiction, love writing, then you might as well not be doing this.

Clarion really does change you. You come here, and you expect to learn, you expect your writing to change and improve, you expect to maybe network a little, meet some famous people, meet some childhood heroes. That all happens. But what also happens is that who YOU are changes. I don't know whether it's baring your soul to 17 strangers, or the hothouse pressure-cooker boot camp atmosphere, or the increase of your critical faculty as applied to your own work, or something else entirely, or some combination of the above. I don't know. But you do change. Some of the dross gets burned away. Nicola described it yesterday as 17 individual crucibles, taking in information and skills and lots of stuff, and then turning the heat up high. Burning away lots and seeing what you have left. Sleep deprivation is undoubtedly part of it. Emotional stability goes out the window for a few weeks, as you burn to learn as much as you can, as fast as you can -- hopefully without breaking. There are people who come to Clarion excited, talented, hopeful -- people who then leave and never write again. I hope that doesn't happen to anyone here. It had damn well better not happen to me. I expect you guys not to let that happen to me. Feel free to yell, if necessary.

It really is a once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing experience. If you're thinking of doing it, first make sure you're in the right place and time for it (lots of people do it too early, and that can kill your writing), then be sure you can leave you job, your family, your life for six weeks, then scrape up the money (they do offer some small scholarship money -- and if you love science fiction/fantasy, the Clarion workshops are a great place to donate money to) -- then go.

I probably should have saved that great big speech for after Clarion, but I'm all excited now, and I plan to be exhausted later. :-)

Tomorrow night at 5 p.m. I read at Elliot Bay Books. Come if you can. It would be great to see some of you there. I'll be having dinner there afterwards, and attending Nicola's reading at 7:30.

Hello, munchkins! I’m…

Hello, munchkins!

I'm in a very good mood right now, having just finished a 3900 word story in approx. 5 hrs. Pleased with it. If you're curious, drop me a note saying you'd like to read "Deep with Sea". Keep in mind that it is currently very much a first draft.

I'm doing a bit of cleaning up and updating of the website currently -- nothing major. Had a nice lunch with Alex at the Rosebud cafe (they're a dyke hangout with great brunches -- I recommend the baked egg thingies if you're ever in Seattle). Going to mostly putter the rest of the day, I suspect. I've got an erotic mystery due for Puritan hanging over my head -- that should get done in the next day, so if I'm good, I'll start on that. It's pretty much plotted out (very weird plotting a mystery, let me tell you!) now. Oh, I should remember to put a copy of Interplanet Janet up on the stories page. That issue of Puritan's been out long enough. If you don't see it in a couple of weeks, feel free to remind me.

I had a lovely birthday -- pizza and cake and ice cream for dinner, with various Clarionites. Lucius came and gave me a huge gilt toad, on Bob's recommendation. It's a little hard to explain why, but it's connected to a Asian restaurant named Ballet (good, cheap, fast). That's probably all you need to know.

Generally feeling pretty happy. Going to finish up this puttering and ask Alex to read my very rough story. Let him hack it up some before class. :-)