March 22, 2012

The Continued Non Arrival of Doodles


I went ringing at the abbey again tonight.


            More pause.

            Even longer pause.

            . . . I wonder how long before they ask me politely not to come back?


            I then came home to a query from Blogmom about all those doodles and doodled books I haven’t sent out yet.  Yes.  I haven’t sent them out.  I said that I was going to have the rest out by the end of March.  I lied.  I didn’t mean to lie, but I lied.  I was at that time in the grip of the delusion that I would have finished SHADOWS . . . about a fortnight ago.** 

            I’m still working on SHADOWS.  And as I keep moaning to everyone who doesn’t quickly run away from me, it’s going fine.  It’s just not going fast enough.  I’ve had to slow down, indeed, precisely because I’ve been ramming it through slightly faster than it’s wanted to go, and I came to the point with the third draft—which is usually my final one—that I had to slow down or risk botching the job.  As it is I’m skating over stuff I didn’t want to skate over.  I’m hoping I might get to use this world again—like ALBION takes place in SUNSHINE’s world—which might give me a chance to poke more ignorant fun at quantum physics and chaos theory.  But I think the algebra is specific to this book, and the Japanese language and culture, which appear to be settling in for the long haul in my life***, are tied in SHADOWS to a specific character which is inconvenient since I don’t write sequels.

            And it’s hard to judge what to put on the blog—about anything, really.  I’m never in a good mood when I wonder what kind of an absolutely weird impression of Robin McKinley I’m giving by the public persona who appears here.  I don’t think I’m quite as TOTALLY FRELLING SELF OBSESSED as you’d be forgiven for thinking I am from these (virtual) pages:  it’s just that I’m my own safest material, since I don’t have to worry about hurting, humiliating or infuriating anyone else when I talk about me.††  At the same time I’m so conscious of what I’m not saying about me that I genuinely can’t guess what I look like to all of you.†††

            And . . . I don’t like whiners.  If I whine here, I’m very sorry.  My judgement was off that day(s).  So I’m not telling you how the undone doodles pray on my conscience and how grim my office at the cottage is, full, as it also is, with heaps of books, lists, and mailing envelopes.  Circumstances conspired—PEG II crashing and burning, and my then urgently trying to get on with SHADOWS as fast as possible—but that still leaves you waiting over six months for something you paid for last autumn.

            Since I mostly write here about all the rushing around doing too much that I do, you would also be more than forgiven for thinking‡ that if I stopped flitting about the landscape and concentrated I would be getting both SHADOWS and doodles (etc) done a lot faster.  You’ll just have to take my word for it both that it doesn’t work that way—and that there’s perhaps less flitting than you think.  I work seven days, remember, and I don’t take holidays, or anyway I can’t remember the last time I took one.  For one very minor example of this wombly balance:   I guarantee that if I weren’t whacking myself silly over SHADOWS I would be getting on with learning how to ring the beastly abbey bells at least fractionally faster than I am.‡‡  Indeed I’d be getting on with bell ringing generally at least fractionally faster if I didn’t pretty invariably have no functioning intellect left by the time I go to bell practise in the evenings.‡‡‡

            But believe me, you will be the first to know when I send SHADOWS to Merrilee and instantly morph spectacularly into a Doodle Factory. 

* * *

* Well . . . I’m getting a lot of knitting done while I sit out.  There’s no point even watching Stedman on twenty-seven:  it’s just a storm of ropes to me.   But I can sometimes learn something standing behind someone with his or her hands on a rope, and intently watching what they’re doing.   And at the abbey I can use all the help about anything that I can get.  So I stood behind the treble for some Cambridge Major^, because in other towers I can treble bob, which is what the treble does in Cambridge . . . and got horribly lost.  So when, later, they called for Bristol Major, which is another treble-bobbing method, I decided to stick to knitting.  But I’ve been tagged as a stander-behind—it’s one of these how-you’re-wired things:  some people find standing behind of zero use—and one of the other ringers said to me afterward, oh, but you should have stood behind the treble again!  I decided it would be impolitic to say I’d rather knit.

            I was knitting on Monday at (bell) practise and Anthea, who did use to knit, and quite glamorous things too, says she doesn’t knit any more because ‘nothing happens fast enough’.  But I knit in waste time:  those three minutes at that exasperatingly long light on my way to Nadia’s, sitting out in bell towers, during break at the Muddles, waiting for my computer to stop sulking and do something.^^  And all that effort, even at my knitting speed, does blerg or bludge into something eventually:  I now have the world’s longest leg warmer and I’d better cast off and start the other one.  It would be nice to have a pair by November. . . . 

^ To the extent that I ring it inside, I ring minor, which is six bells, not eight. 

^^ Yes, I can sing while I knit.  As necessary. 

** Positive thinking doesn’t always work.  Sometimes even putting something on the blog to make sure I do it doesn’t work. 

*** Have I mentioned that I’ve found a language school in Hampshire that offers Japanese?   I’ve told the woman who is my contact that I can’t commit to lessons till I’ve dealt with an overdue work project.  Ahem.  But this is so much old-unfinished-business-coming-back-to-bite-me, not a brand-new, for-godssake-McKinley-get-a-grip fascination.  I’d be more inclined to see it as some kind of serendipity rather than actual unfinished business if it weren’t that Damarian has a certain amount of Japanese grammar in it—as well as some funny alphabet stuff.  I only started writing down what I think I know about the Damarian language in the last ten or so years, when I would have told you I remembered nothing of Japanese except how to count to ten and say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’.  That’s true, but the Story Council apparently saw an opportunity and pounced.  

† PEGASUS is one story in three books!  It’s not a trilogy!  The word ‘sequel’ will not be bandied here! 

†† I have arguments with myself all the time. China is sometimes broken. 

††† Don’t tell me.  I’m sure I don’t want to know. 

‡ Simultaneously grinding your teeth optional 

‡‡ This is hardly a silver lining, but it did occur to me that . . . the abbey has always been my best local opportunity to learn some of the slightly-more-upper-level stuff that the New Arcadia band can’t reliably support.  But given how steep the learning curve for adapting to the abbey’s bells is, the only way I’d ever have stuck the course is by something like this—having cast myself off from New Arcadia first.  As it is . . . I’ll stick the course unless they tell me to go away. 

‡‡‡ I write the blog every night on fumes, okay?



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