Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Knee Bone's Connected to the Mop Bone

The laundry was too late.

Saturday is house cleaning day, and tonight I have a date with myself - it is high time I squired myself out in some impractical shoes, with age-inappropriate hair and too much makeup - and so today for the first time in a while, house cleaning is on a schedule. I need to be done by five so I can do something about my nails, then shower and primp and spend far, far too long pampering myself into a sense that I am cute and worth seeing, and get out of here.

The thing about cleaning is, one thing leads to another. It's not another thing leads to one thing. You have to do some things first, some things last (painting your face works the same way, come to think of it - you can't put on mascara THEN do foundational stuff; they call it that for a reason).

In the case of my home, I have to make the bed, then dust, then vacuum. Making the bed, you see, kind of raises dust and pet hair. Dusting itself may result in a bit of fallout to the floor. So there is an order.

And today, I started the laundry after 2:30. And I need SHEETS. In order to make my bed.

You see the problem. (If you have not run screaming from this boring post!)

And so I pause to say hello. "Hello!"

Wash cycle should be winding up - and then there must be drying.

The good news in all this is: one, I've gotten all the trash out of the house and the cat litter part is done. And, two - I can do the kitchen and bathroom scrubbing pretty much any tie I want. And if I get those things done - they're DONE! And yay for getting gross toilet cleaning OUT of the way.


Off I go again. Happy Saturday, everyone!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Collection

First off today, welcome and thank you to JEN Garrett, my 34th follower! Yay!

Next - I'm a bit late with the link, but yay more, for a tribute to writer Leonard Nimoy's birthday.

Megan Sayer has a lovely post about hope. It's hard. But, I've found, sometimes it's even harder not to.

Agent Carly Watters has good advice/encouragement - for the pre-published debut author. Just when I cool it on querying, of course (but she doesn't do my genre, so it's all right by me).

And now, a three-fer from The History Blog:

Scratch any archaeologist (but not on the lower back, their legs will never stop kicking) and you'll hear a midden story. This one may be a little adult for some readers (I'd call it NSFW), but it's still interesting history! Hint: sex toy. Yeah, we didn't invent those in the 20th century either.

Out of the toilet and into ... oh, wait. The sewer. Italian family finds 2500 years of history while looking for a broken sewer line. Man, it's boring when my toilet backs up. You know, by comparison. aaaaaaannnnd I'm okay with that. (Also with my parents not lowering me into the, erm, bowels of our home when I was twelve.)

And last, but least gross (though possibly disconcerting! and that is a pun!), 18th century Swiss automata. I'll embed the punnish clip below ...


Friday, April 10, 2015

The Dull Ache ... and Something Else ...

Of my readers who are also writers, a question: has any one of you who is going or has gone the querying route to publication ever received a request for pages or a full more than a week after an initial query? I never have.

It’s been a few weeks since my last query – and so, regardless of all those agents’ timelines now commonly stretching to three months for theoretical viability (“will try to respond within” or “if you don’t hear within twelve weeks, no means no”) – I essentially view EVERY submission I’ve put out there as a done and dead deal.

Which is why this contemplation that Ax is not a viable product right now is my ever-growing expectation.

It’s a good novel, The Ax and the Vase. Of that I have no question. But a novel and a product are two different things; and the publishing industry is a business in need of PRODUCTS. To sell. I can polish a piece of gold till it shines (and it does) but if the kind of bauble it is is out of style, it’s out of style no matter how gleaming.

So I have this precious thing *I* still find beautiful, and which can be appreciated by many – but not a *market* … and so, increasingly, I find myself pushing it less, and focusing on another piece, not even close to ready to polish yet. Still in the making.

It’s difficult not to think of the years I have invested in Ax. We all know, I’m a Thoughtkiller, not shy nor squeamish about “killing my darlings” and open to professional feedback to make my work the best it can be.

Even so. Abandoning something I’ve worked on so long, putting it away as a “maybe once I sell the next one, this one may follow another year” – or, heart-crunchingly, putting it away with the possibility it will never sell at all …

That is painful.



I once married a man I knew was A Good Man. I knew those were thin on the ground, and I recognized (and still do) so much that is fine and good and worthy and fun and loveable. Beloved Ex was, and is, a marvelous property, and the fact he’s not with someone even still kind of kills me. He’s a catch, and there are so many women who deserve the heart that beats in that man.

And I loved him. And I married him.

And love is no reason to marry someone. I love him still: and yet, my life is full enough, and fulfilling – even without Beloved Ex participating daily.

You marry someone not because he’s a treasure, nor beautiful, nor fun or sexy or any of the rest of it – but because life, without them, would be *less*.


The point is: I know a good thing when I see it. And I inherited a tendency from my mother: I sometimes grip things because I know they’re precious.

I married a man I truly did love, but a very big part of the marriage was acquisitive. It was nothing on which to build a lifetime, and the mistakes we both made drew blood. We may be friends now. But there were many years we were nothing to each other, and there resides even in our old bond not only the memories, but the damages. I wasn’t the only wounding party. But I know my part was, *in* part: a matter of greed.



Ax is another treasure I know for what it is. I know how good it is, I love it, I MADE it – and that didn’t draw blood exactly, but it occupied years of my life. I can admit, I have been greedy to see it succeed. Greedy.

As life tips past what we call Middle Age (yeah, I look fine and am healthy; yes, people like to think Middle Age lasts into their sixties; but I’m pushing fifty, and frankly don’t expect 100 years – I am decidedly getting past “middle aged”), the prospect of losing *years* of such work as the intimate, intense, and exultant craft as writing …

It’s really kind of heartbreaking.

Losing all that. Wasting it … ? No. Not waste. But not being able to share it.

The loss is giddy enough to make me somewhat sick.


My life is FILLED with good friends, good music, good food, and the two best pets any person could hope to be blessed with. I have a nice home, a spiff car. My mom is near – and, as far as they are, my brother and nieces and their mom are not truly *distant*. There are so many ways now to be with those we are not near to. My paying job is constantly fulfilling, and I honestly love it, and its people. There is so much to be grateful for.

Yet.

Writing Ax has, as I suspect any fool can see, has been a balm to me through the years Mr. X has lived half a world away. I’ve hated having no partner. But I’ve had this thing – this “second” job – this work I have poured my heart and mind int. This work which has returned the favor by expanding my life itself, by making even fuller a blessed existence which was more than I ever should have dared to ask in the first place, and by teaching me so much more than its business and process.

It’s also been, in some way – both a tribute to my grandma and my dad. Dad, because he missed my writing it. Because he never knew I would make such a thing as this great book. Because, honestly, I think he’d have really LIKED it. And my grandma because … I am her namesake.

If I’d not been The Louise of my generation – there would have been no Clovis. A reverse progression.


The prospect of losing this almost-memorial effort, this thing I have done, which has sustained and enriched so much of my wee and paltry little life …

It’s really kind of heartbreaking.







And yet …



And yet.

There is the WIP.





The energy, and the transportive experience of writing – of experiencing creation first in the learning/exploration/discovery of research and then in experiencing *what it is* to CREATE something. To *make* something, and know it both for your own and for the inspiration that it is. To understand that it is possible to both bleed a thing, and still somehow see it as an object so nearly-miraculous that to claim it for your own is almost hubris.

To write.

The bouyant power of … making … of creativity – that elemental, ineffable thing that comes from within but is sparked with something so much more than we are in and  of ourselves.


It is … compensation.


There is no art without pain, they say.



But, Christ Lord. I have to believe: it’s worth it

Writing is an Act of Greed

… all we writers ever want is to know more, to hear more, to see more, of our characters. Our worlds.

That's It

… the word “artisanal” makes ANYTHING funny. (It’s the new curate)

Point of View

One of the things you learn in the sketching phase of writing a novel is what the novel is actually going to be. I’ve posted about the liberty I'm feeling, getting out of the first-person singular voice of The Ax and the Vase … and I’ve written much, recently, about #WeNeedDiverseBooks and the failure of Ax to live up to that as an ideal I personally support.

What I haven’t written about is the fact that two of my characters – one a main character, and one a main character at least for the duration of his stay in the pages – do happen to be People of Color.

This isn’t the case out of a desire to “write for the market” (that trap pre-published authors fall into, of picking a trend hoping to cash in on it) – but, frankly (har the franks), sheer boredom at the lack of diversity in Ax … much as I love it.

Perhaps as part of the process of figuring out whether it’s time to (*temporarily* …) shelve Ax in favor of the WIP … perhaps simply because of the first flush of energy in working on said WIP … very definitely owing to a lot of my social media and query-researching exposure to the awareness of the need for literary diversity and the obvious White Liberal Guilt attendant on a novel utterly lacking in anything but White Powerful Male voice (much as I love it …) …

It’s been very exciting to feel the POV of the WIP limbering up, and *opening* up.

I’m not trying to write about fascinating/objectified brown skin and exoticized eyes, but I’m getting to know my main character who is *not* the princess. With getting to know the world itself – the period perspective on everything from the sound and use of a human voice, to emotional relationships and protocol within a court unlike any milieu familiar to a modern mind – comes getting to know a woman living in this place, working in it, making sure she can hold her own and stay in it.

The character’s name is Plectrudis, and she is midwife to the queen in the very first scene (as of *now* … !), and becomes nurse to the child she brings forth, and eventually HER midwife as well. She has all the intimacy and remove of a servant in the most privileged of households, and even as I write about writing about her, I know some of my favorite sketches are already wrong, and I know I can’t see her completely just yet (so I am almost afraid to so much as tell you her name, because the WIP is at the point where EVERYTHING I’ve scribbled is liable to change, and probably should, both as I learn and as the story asserts itself).

But something of her character – and fleeting breaths in her voice – is formed, and these things will only grow.

More exciting still is the man.

I’m still in the precious, protective, deeply-skittish-woodland-creature phase of creation here, so I can say even less of him. But he tapped me on the shoulder this week, and … the resulting sketch was terribly exciting.

I think he may speak.

I think he may get to be more than the object of the feminine and royal gaze of our princess – who was only my original reason for writing the novel, but who can’t sustain being the only thing IN the novel, it seems – and who … perhaps … loved  him. At this point, we know only: they *liked*.


He is historical, and that too is kind of thrilling. One of those tantalizing creatures we know existed, but have no information about, but the barest of facts. Primary sources do give him a name, though – which, to me, is almost joyously intriguing. He has a name. We have his name. And he lived, and he breathed. And he is so much more than the mere footnote that moved the princess herself on to the shocking career that was her life.

He was her first shock.

And I think he may speak.


When I first tried to see his face, I didn’t know what color he was, nor any of the workings behind the skin. He did not speak. He was (there is a study in this, my being a female author) entirely the subject of the female gaze.



I saw through his eyes, this week. I have seen almost enough through Plectrudis’s gaze to learn to *look* at the world with hers.

Just cannot wait to hear his voice.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Internetworking

So this thing where Janet Reid took Holy Week off blogging to pray, and then on Thursday opened the floor to all her Reiders (not just the usual commenters, but yay for all the lurkers who came forth with a word!), has been days of unexpected reading fun. She's got us networking, and it's bumped up my STAGGERING number of followers (31 to 33 now - yes, hold your breath in awe!) and led to some comments I've been so tickled to see.

I must apologize for being slow to say hello back to Maggie Maxwell. *Waves enthusiastically some more* Thank you for the follow!

Off for a bit of WIPping ... See y'all soon.

Monday, April 6, 2015

*Waves Enthusiastically!*

My thanks to Colin, for being kind enough to add me to the list of bloggy folks at Janet Reid's community - and for my new Reidy follower, Donna Everheart - AND for my new visitors, Lilac Shoshani, Elizabeth Crisp, and Lilly Faye, my first poodle visitor, and a mighty fine canine authoress.

I'm still digging through the links from this past Thursday, but have had Elizabeth in my bookmarks for a while, and I think Lilac is in there too (have certainly hit up her profile before!). Adding Lilly Faye, because who can resist a puppy blog? Not. I!

Now Gossamer's going to ask me why he hasn't got a blog ...

Edited to add AJ Blythe's blog, which I think I've linked to (in any case, I meant to!) coz I loved this post when I first peeked over there ...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Grass

Church was short one Diane today; I've been spotty in attendance since we lost our priest, and I have a thing about being one of those people who only show up at the high holidays. So yesterday, I spent time with my family. Today, I am spending time alone.

Image: publicdomainictures.net


Just came in from mowing the grass. It is a beautiful, breezy, and sunny day; and, for me, there is as much (and perhaps sometimes more) worship in the act of maintaining my greatest material blessing apart from my body - in doing something around my home that is for my neighbors too, which going to church is not. And in simply being outside, my happy Yella Dawg watching and berating the mower when it comes too near her, the wind in my hair and using that body which is my first and last material blessing; working it and sweating and waving at occasional passersby.

Coming inside, I visited Janet Reid's blog for the firs time since last Sunday (she was taking time for prayer and worship of her own this week), and saw that she'd opened a forum for the community of her Reiders to get to know each other by posting links to their blogs and sites - and the comments section is nearly 200 responses deep.

And so, now I shall observe the holiday by adding links to my bookmarks, by reading a few individual pieces to add to upcoming Collection posts, by learning a bit about the lurkers, by learning more about those who comment most.

I haven't put up my own link - per usual, a bit late to the party; and there is so much to swim through as it is I can't add to the ocean. Sometimes it is better reading.

And, indeed, it can be instructive. Like writing, the best way to learn how is to READ. So with blogging; curating and cre-ating the most worthwhile content takes understanding what works!

The only thing missing today is pancakes. But, come to think of it, I have the fixin's for daddy's biscuits, so that might work.


And so. Hello to my Reiders. And my readers, too. And blessed weekend to all - whether it was in learning why this night is not like other nights ... or whether it was in contemplating what exactly "fondant" really is, as defined by the good folks at Cadbury ...

Friday, April 3, 2015

For my Fellow Reiders

To my readers from Janet Reid's community: y'all, if I'd seen lima beans here, I'd have instantly passed out. As it is, just cackling laughter (see #2!).

Need a Little Color About the Place

So please enjoy this portrait of Isabella of Portugal. I love her face so much.

Image: Wikimedia
Article: Wikipedia.