I think it is weird to have Valentine’s Day during Lent. I know there is some kind of history to St Valentine—starting with the fact that there are several of them—and St Valentine’s day as February 14th is based on when some unfortunate St Valentine was martyred, possibly in one of those exceptionally creative ways that the killers of future saints seem to go in for, and which is why I’d just as rather not look it up. But romantic soppiness for Valentine’s Day started with Chaucer, right? That’s a long time ago—and well before that Henry fellow came along and invented the Anglicans who maybe don’t take Lent quite so hard—I don’t see Henry fasting, do you? And maybe Valentine’s Day doesn’t usually come during Lent. Still. Weird.*
Fortunately I’m not giving up flowers or presents from my husband, so the posy by my plate today was totally welcome.
But I want to see Sid’s reaction to the HOUSE! Maybe skip a detail on two – it’s been so l-o-o-o-ng since Kes and Hayley were at Rose Manor. Pretty please?
It doesn’t work that way. While I love watching you forumites guess and debate, in the first place I’m ten or fifteen eps ahead of what I’m posting and in the second place The Story Is The Story even when I’m presenting it in this nonstandard way. I can’t go back and jigger with the pacing before I hand it in to my editor, you know? And as a reader I’ve always liked the details so it’s not surprising that as a writer I tend to put ’em in. Some of my single-mindedness is no doubt natural perversity, but it’s also the only way I’ve ever been able to write anything—by listening to the Story and shutting everything else out. These people who send out their first or second drafts for feedback. . . . Shudder. Obviously it works for them. I’d rather retrain as a telephone lineperson. And I’m afraid of heights.
Oooh! Are those runes on the collar I wonder?
I think it is safe to say they are not a company logo. Poor Kes’ problem is that she hasn’t yet realised—despite Mr Melmoth, Watermelon Shoulders, and burgundy velvet—that she’s in a fantasy novel.
And apparently Kes’ mother had one or two good points, at least when it came to looking after dogs.
Yes. I’d love to meet Kes’ mum—er, mom—myself. I have no idea if she’s as dire as Kes makes her out to be. Kes is understandably peeved at her reaction to Kes’ divorce, but I don’t think she’d have dragged her daughter to all those dog shows if the daughter really really didn’t want to go. And she did send her to horse camp. Which is expensive, and there wasn’t a lot of money around.
beneath the exterior of screaming skulls there beat the heart of a plastic roller skate
Oh, thank you, thank you. It makes my day when someone laughs at my jokes.
I am very intrigued that it’s not quite the same ‘Sid’ on the other side of the ‘whateveritis’. And maybe not quite the same ‘Kes’ either? She clearly has a different wardrobe but I wonder if her physical appearance is the same in both worlds.
I don’t know either. I assume we’ll find out. —You can see why I try to keep some eps ahead. It is VERY UNSETTLING sending stuff out there in public when I don’t know what’s going on or what’s going to happen. Granted I have more idea than you do—and some stuff to aim at, or maybe I mean a few stepping stones in the quaking bog—but I don’t know nearly enough.
I do like how Kes seems to freak out so calmly. It’s a skill I could use.
Oh, glory, me too. (There are a number of ways in which KES is purest, sheerest wish fulfilment.) Although I think she does the screaming and melting down too. But there are moments when stunned disbelief is the only possible response.
So, Kes is now bleeding through to the other side, instead of the other side bleeding through to her… interesting. I like.
And I am very curious about the Topaz version of Sid.
Yup. Me too. See above.
Also, I love that the part that seems to freak her out the most is the wardrobe change.
But . . . but . . . clothing is against your SKIN. All the rest of it could be a massive hallucination, but if you lift your hand and see and feel somebody else’s clothing . . . the hallucination has just rocketed to a whole new horrifying level.
Ok, tell me — was that wonderful horse in the story before the ‘Fair Days’ guest post??
Good heavens, of course. I’ve been horse-mad for fifty-six years (approximately) and have loved the big hairy-footed things from the first time I set eyes on one, which was pretty soon after first exposure. I’ve even schooled a few.
“I’m raving,” I said. I let go of the keys in my pocket
Not literally. But . . . um . . . well, it’s not going to surprise you that Rose Manor has, you know, form, in the living-in-a-fantasy-novel situation, is it?
We still don’t know why Mr. Wolverine is calling…
Nope. We don’t. I have some idea—I know how it begins—but I also have the nervous feeling that this is one of those conversations that isn’t going to go the way I’m expecting it to.
Here’s my guesses: The landlord will turn out to be a smoking hot cool guy (when he finally shows up). His cousin, on the other hand, will probably have something to do with the appearance of Mr. Melmoth.
Well, the cousin and Mr Melmoth are definitely on the same team. The Bad Guy team. And there is a smoking hot cool guy somewhere in the vicinity of Mr Demerara, but I’m not sure whether it’s Mr D himself, his son, his valet, his tame magician or his pet shapeshifting Elasmotherium.
I don’t like the sound of the landlord’s cousin across the lake with a tick-like nature and a fancy old car…bet he’s a snoop. Maybe Sid will bite him, and something dire will fall out of his pocket and prove he’s a serial killer.
‘Why, that looks like Major Klondike’s Foolhardy Conservationist Medal for rescuing six polar bears and a very confused wombat from that ice floe forty years ago! He always wore it! And I haven’t seen him around lately! And what is that wrapped around it? Why, that looks like Sallie Mae’s hair ribbon, from when she was prom queen last spring! And she disappeared right after the prom!’
Clearly Hayley uses the 4-inch-heels for smashing pigeonholes
Have I ever told you anything about DESTINY? It is, theoretically, the third in the non-trilogy of vaguely world-linked novels beginning with SUNSHINE. Which is to say there are vampires (but no Sunshine, and no Con. Calm down). Destiny has an interesting pair of insanely high heels which do some pigeonhole smashing.
I love that Kes is making connections with people. That’s reassuring, even though I suspect things won’t stay nearly so grounded going forward (I’m talking to you, Watermelon Shoulders and Mr. Melmoth).
Heh. And this comment was written before the burgundy-lace-and-Topaz scene. But wouldn’t it be nice if major life changes went more like this, where most of the people you meet are not merely polite and well-disposed but are on your wavelength and have what you need when you need it? Speaking of wish fulfilment. Sigh.
I am contemplating moving to Maine: should I be taking notes, or checking in to a padded cell?
I wish Eats were local!
Well, I do and I don’t. I have enough trouble with both my waistline and what my stomach is prepared to recognise as food, and I think Eats might just make me cry a lot.
I am sooooo wanting to hear more about Mr. Watermelon Shoulders! My curiosity it all a-dither!
He’s cute. I’ll tell you that for free. He’s cuuuuuuuuuute. Well, I think he’s cute. He’s a little challenged in the modern world viewpoint area, but you can put up with a few faults for serious cute.
Sid! (only blonde) http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/lurcherphotos.htm
. . . and a bloke. I don’t think Sid is ever going to look this smooth—Saluki fur is very silky, but Deerhound is wiry, and sticks out in all directions, and a cross between the two could be anything—but we aren’t going to know till she gets fed up and clean. Also an ill- or under-nourished dog’s coat will need to grow out again on good food before you know what it’s going to be. But this is a very handsome dog and I’d totally invite him in and feed him tuna-fish sandwiches.
Not all divorce lawyers are bad/evil/venal.
Oh, of course not! Serena had a really bad experience and Kes and Mr Wolverine are never going to be best friends, but I think he’s good at his job. But Kes has almost no money of her own and doesn’t want to take Gelasio’s, and this attitude frustrates the banana fruitcake out of Mr W.
And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go sing. Kes sings. I don’t yet know how good she is. It’s a ratbag, trying to move on with your wish fulfilment and having the Story periodically getting in your way and saying no, you don’t have that. I don’t care what you want. This is what you have.
* * *
* Note the forum is not barred at the gate against non-Christians. I know of at least two Buddhists who read this blog and a lot of the important people in my life are Jewish, including both Hannah and Merrilee, my best friend and my agent. Many ways up the mountain, as I believe I said last September or shortly thereafter, and I arrived (breathless, with dirty knees and messy hair) in the lap of Christianity by a somewhat nonstandard route besides. I hope anyone who might want to say something from another viewpoint will do so.^
^ The usual Pollyanna caveats apply.
Yes. The doodle factory has begun operations.
I know you’re due a KES tonight but Blogmom tells me she’s already receiving wistful queries, in the wake of my turning SHADOWS in last Sunday night, about the likelihood of my getting back to doodling any time soon. Since you’ve all been waiting a year, this is perfectly reasonable.* So I thought I’d better deal with that first.
I’d been planning on waiting till the end of the week when I should be able to provide slightly more impressive desk-in-process photos. It’s not, repeat not, that I didn’t hit the ‘send’ button and immediately swing around and look despairingly at what used to be my office and is now a kind of storage facility for homeless parcels. It took me two days just to dig out. Believe me when I say that I have thought of the bell auction backlog EVERY DAY, because my office has been effectively impassable for the same year you’ve been waiting for your doodles, and I’m not tidy to begin with.**
I am so not doing this again.*** And for those of you who are puzzled at why I have been quite such a nugatory no-show about the whole affair†, the view from here goes like this: The New Arcadia Bell Restoration Fund rolled into existence some time in early 2011. I don’t remember exactly when the idea for the auction coalesced out of my overheated brain or when it seemed to me a good idea to add almost anything to the list that any of you out there expressed a willingness to spend money on . . . but I do remember that Blogmom was ready to set the thing up months before I pulled it together to send her what she needed.
And the reason I kept not pulling it together, aside from my general uselessness about almost anything practical, is . . . that PEGASUS II, due last summer, was showing an extreme unwillingness to be written. In fact a total unwillingness to be written. I wasted a lot of time refusing to believe this. It wasn’t just my next book. It was the frelling sequel†† to the book that ends on a cliffhanger so appalling that anything I can manage to do in KES looks like a mug of Maggie’s mum’s hot chocolate††† in comparison.‡ The prospect of merely not being able to afford to go on eating (nearly) paled in comparison with the horror of not finishing PEGASUS. Finishing. FINISHING.
PEGASUS, which, as long-time blog readers know, started life as a short story for ELEMENTALS: AIR, wanted to be a trilogy? Kill me. Kill me now.
So last August I set aside the semi-congealed, lumpy, overstuffed bungle that book two of the PEGASUS duology had become, and frantically began writing SHADOWS.‡‡ In the first place, I needed to keep eating. In the second place, I couldn’t face telling Merrilee or my editor what had happened till I could honestly say that I was working on something else. I whispered the dreaded ‘t’ word to Merrilee last September‡‡‡ and let her break it to my editor.
The part I’m not telling you much about, and that I’m not going to tell you much about, is that I thought I really was going to get SHADOWS put through fairly quickly, but along about March this year a big fist of health/menopause/mind/heart/spirit stuff punched me hard, and EVERYTHING including SHADOWS w e n t i n t o e x t r e m e s l o o o o o o w m o o o o o t i o n. . . .
But things may be improving generally. There is, for example, KES. And I’ve sent SHADOWS in.§
And the doodle factory went into production yesterday. Watch this space.§§
* * *
* And leaving you to hang a little longer over the particular cliff at the end of KES 42 . . . pleases me, because I am the hellgoddess and, as blondviolinist pointed out on the forum, I enjoy your pain. Mwa ha ha ha ha.
Also, in the final crunch to finish SHADOWS^ I haven’t written any KES in a while, and I need to get on with that, I’m only a few eps ahead at the moment. And just as much as you do I want to know what happens next, because KES, like everything else I’ve ever written, including cough-cough nonfiction^^, keeps surprising me.^^^
^ EXCEPT I’M NOT RATBAGGING FINISHED. I’ve spent the last two days cutting the freller—I cannot write short—and will be going on doing so for several more days yet. Which is actually amazingly stressful. Arrrgh.
^^ Including this blog. Which is mostly nonfiction, if of a perhaps slightly unusual kind.
^^^ Which as every writer who has ever written anything worth reading has said in one form or another, is a good thing and a necessary thing. A piece of writing you can order around, which is perfectly submissive to your fingers on the keyboard, is going to be dead and booooooring on the page.
** I now also have a yarn problem. At least this doesn’t require additional steel struts and granite pillars to shore up the weight-bearing floor.
*** Yes, there will be a permanent doodle shop on the blog AFTER, REPEAT AFTER I fulfil the auction orders. Did I say AFTER? AFTER. AAAAAAAAFTER.
† I am a lifelong absent-minded disorganised dilettante who always believes she can do more than she can.^ But the overcommitted messes I get myself into are usually not this extreme.
^ And I wonder why I’ve ended up with ME. No, I don’t wonder all that much.
†† I who never write sequels
††† Have I mentioned that Maggie’s mum—I mean mom—makes the best hot chocolate?
‡ Although I’ve had one or two really excellently cruel ideas about intercutting some of Flowerhair’s story.
‡‡ The first twenty single-spaced pages of which have been sitting in a folder behind my desk for several years. Almost nothing of said twenty pages remain, except the first-person high school girl narrator, and the short hairy guy from the Slav Commonwealth named Val whom she dislikes and distrusts on sight.
‡‡‡ I knew there was something up with you, she said. I just didn’t know what it was.
§ Even if I’m still frelling tinkering with it. Frelling.
§§ The straightforward stuff first. The one offs later.
One of the lesser wrong-going things last year was that I had a, er, stab at one of the auction knitting projects and promptly made a mess of that too, which was worse for morale than it should have been, first because my Secret Knitting Projects were all going the way of PEG II and second because I was beginning to pick up signs that in fact my money was not going to be welcome at the bell fund I thought I was raising it for. This was very bad indeed for morale. GAAAAH. LIFE. NO, IT’S NOT WHAT I HAD IN MIND. DON’T YOU HAVE SOMETHING ELSE?
Meanwhile, I am a whole year older in terms of knitting nous. And I will turn out the auction knitty things with aplomb. Just not this week.
After the whippets died, and we had never really got over the loss of the first one and then the second two died quite close together three years later, I fell into the slough of despond and wondered if I should even have dogs again. We’d moved into town by then because the big ramshackle house in the country was getting beyond Peter (and I am NO use at DIY, that’s NO USE) and he felt that having passed his three-quarter-century mark he’d like to work a little less hard. The next dogs, if there were going to be next dogs, were going to be my problem and my responsibility . . . and one or two of you regular readers out there may have noticed that I possess certain aspects of control freakery and obsessiveness.* Maybe I should limit myself to rose-bushes.
Anyone who has ever lost a companion animal knows that it takes you a while to get over that individual loss because it’s not some generic companion animal thing, it’s your friend, it’s your Fuzzy or your Flossie or your Fang. So while part of me was saying ‘I can’t go through this again’** part of me was also keeping an eye on ads in the local papers and curly notecards pinned to the bulletin boards inside the front door of the local library and the local Tesco’s. And there were puppies, but there weren’t any sighthounds. There were never any sighthounds. Oh, well, fine, I thought, I’m not sure I want another dog.
Six months later I was tired of hurtling by myself. That summer I dragged poor Peter to several big summer shows and fairs with lurcherworld*** classes and also began compulsively reading the puppy ads in the back of Countryman’s Weekly†. There are plenty of sighthounds, lurchers and longdogs†† out there but none of them are around here. And I wanted to visit my puppies—I didn’t want to show up at the train station or whatever and take possession of some terrified unknown scrap cowering in the back of a carrier.†††
I still wasn’t sure I was getting another dog.‡ But I was starting to become a trifle cranky that the getting, supposing getting moved into the ‘active’ column, was proving so difficult.
At this interesting juncture I met another of those The Most Beautiful Dog I Have Ever Seen, out hurtling one day. I was aware that the greyhound-rescue system is lively and extensive‡‡ but I hadn’t really got my head around it: I’ve always had puppies, so I think in terms of puppies.‡‡‡ This Most Beautiful Dog had a nice owner too, who was more than happy to chat about his fabulous dog§ . . . and (having established that I was a sighthound owner without a current sighthound) offered to introduce me personally to TMBD’s breeder, who always took her own dogs back when they came off the track so that she could see they went to good homes.
And I had just about settled it in my own mind that this was what I was going to do. I was going to adopt a rescued greyhound§§. As I like to tell the story, I had my hand poised over the phone to ring Mr TMBD and ask him to make the appointment when . . .
. . . there was an ad in the local paper for sighthound puppies: Whippet crosses, it said, gentle pets§§§. And (as I also usually tell the story), I made a little hole in the floor diving for the phone. . . .
TO BE CONTINUED
* * *
* Of course this will come as a surprise to most of you.^
** Which is why when I brought two hellhound puppies home I swore I was going to bring another puppy home before they got old.^ You’re going to lose some of your friends to death before death comes for you, but when you lose a human friend you don’t decide never to have human friends again. Most companion animals live traumatically short lives from the perspective of the humans that mourn them but my own feeling about it is that the shock of ‘I’m not doing this again’ is less about life expectancy than it is about the either/or of having critter of choice underfoot or . . . not.
^ If not quite so long before they got old as this frelling October.
I’m afraid I still read it, for Penny Taylor’s weekly lurcher articles. I usually read the working ferret^ and falconry stuff too.
^ Yup. Working. It’s legal here.
†† A lurcher is a sighthound^ crossed with something that isn’t a sighthound. A longdog is a sighthound crossed with some other kind of sighthound. My hellhounds, being whippet/deerhound, are technically longdogs, but everybody’s heard of lurchers and no one’s heard of longdogs. Usually I call them lurchers because it’s easier.
††† Or biting the wire door and screaming.
‡ I wasn’t even sure the dog I might not be getting was a sighthound. I did think about other breeds. I rejected border collies because they need stuff to do. They need stuff to do all the time.^ If I led a simple life with a lot of free time in it I’d get a border collie and teach it to dance. But I don’t. I need something that wants to hurtle a couple of hours a day and will spend the rest of the time happily holding down pieces of floor/sofa.^^ I discarded bullies and Staffies because of the fighting-dog thing, and Dobermanns and Alsatians because of the guard dog thing.^^^ If Southdowner or Fiona# bred Staffies or Dobermanns I’d probably be getting a Staffie or a Dobermann. I believe that a lot of the Perfect Dog situation derives from a breeder who knows what she’s doing and the breed in question is almost secondary. I feel I’ve lucked out that I have a friend who breeds fabulous something-that-appeared-on-my-short-list. The something happens to be bull terriers but hey.##
^ Ask b_twin.
^^ Yes. I know. I have an interesting feat of negotiation coming with Pavlova/Crumpet/Scone/Fruitcake.
^^^ No, I discarded Alsatians because of the hair. According to friends who have them—so I had good breeder recommendations available—the good-natured healthy Alsatians any more are the ones that look like bears. I like bears fine, but I don’t want the upkeep of a medium-sized Grizzly.
# No, Fiona is supposed to be opening a yarn shop.~
~ Speaking of the mouse opening the cheese shop, the junkie opening a pharmacy, etc
## I am very grateful they are mini bull terriers—however with reference to the fact that mini-bull breeders keep adding in some standard blood—if Pavlova/Crumpet/Scone/Fruitcake grows large, there will be language.^
^ By the time it’s galloping around the house with the kitchen table on its back because it’s grown too large to go under, it will be too late, it will be MINE.
‡‡ A friend who knows I knit and has a somewhat flattering idea of both my skill and my speed, told me that she’s knitting rescued sighthound jackets for these people and that I might like to too: http://www.erinhounds.co.uk/ Sigh. There are a million knit-for-charities out there but yeah, if I were going to knit for a critter charity, this is probably what I’d go for. I might even go for a dog.
‡‡‡ Puppies mean you can make your own dog-rearing mistakes. However as I was telling Southdowner as she deposited me—trembling and wild-eyed^—back at the Birmingham train station last Saturday, when it’s time for the generational roll-over with Fruitcake/Scone/Crumpet/Pavlova, I will be OLD, and a nice rescue that has its mad youth behind it sounds very appealing.
^ But not biting the door or screaming
§ Who had a pedigree to die for, and who had full siblings who won everything, said his owner fondly. Not him. He couldn’t bothered. He had the family turn of speed but used it only often enough to make the humans involved shriek and rend their garments.
§§ Although I was not looking forward to housebreaking something that produced 80-pound-dog sized excrement. Holly, from the previous generation, was a rescue, but she was five months old when we got her and weighed twenty-two pounds full grown.
§§§ ::semi-suppressed hilarity::
I know I keep moaning about being an introvert with a privacy fetish . . . nearly every night, and usually for over 1000 words. Cognitive dissonance alert.
This was a true LOL for me… the reason it’s a LOL is that I can do the same thing, though I don’t blog (yet).
You’re leaving out the huge, central, critical fact about this blog: it wasn’t my idea. There is no way in any of the six hundred and thirty-seven dimensions presently known to science that I would have started a blog voluntarily. I started a blog because my agent told me I had to, and my publisher was back there saying, if you want us to go on paying attention to you, a blog would be a very good thing.** I then had to find a way to do it that I would do it. And 1000-plus words on Days in the Life* every oven-frelling-roasted with a side of snarling night, is the way I can do it, and keep doing it. For better and worse. With occasional breaks for roses and baby robins. And guest posts. And now KES.
NO FAIR. I’m having to remind myself to breathe – I was literally holding my breath from the second “there was a funny noise”, and now it’s going to be days before I find out what it is!
Cliffhangers. Mutter, mutter…
Mwa hahahahaha. I have to get some fun out of this, you know. All work and no play makes Jill . . . cranky.
I’ve just re-read the whole story so far in one fell swoop and am happy to report that it reads just as well, if not even better, at the second time of asking. Always an acid test for me with fiction.
Oh dear. Well, I’m (very) glad and all, of course, but . . . remember this isn’t quite Fiction As We Know It, Jim. There’s no planned story arc, no development, no climax, no denouement. It’s One Thing After Another And We’ll Find Out Where We’re Going By Going There.*** I have some ideas. Cathy also has some ideas, if I could get my act together a little faster. Siiiiiiigh. Peter and I were going to write four books of short stories about water, fire, earth and air elemental spirits, right?† And I wrote SUNSHINE, DRAGONHAVEN, CHALICE and PEGASUS instead. The frelling PEGASUS TRILOGY started as a short story for AIR. ::extensive whimpering::
I’d better not let Peter and Cathy get together.
But anyway. Over the long haul, KES will be more of a meander than, um . . . fiction. And I’m not sure that reading 5,692,412 eps in a row will be a good idea.
Look out, Kes, it’s the house from Sunshine!
This is one of the problems with having been writing stories for a while—you run out of first uses of what you might call The Big Simple Stuff. I like lakes. I like houses. I like big old ex-grand ramshackle houses near large bodies of water. And aside from other crucial differences, Kes’ house is a lot smaller, less grand, and farther away from its lake.
. . . did I pick up on a reference to the Yellow Wallpaper?
No. JANE EYRE. However, this is a good opportunity to remind you that the author isn’t always right. She can be pulling/using/responding to stuff she’s not consciously aware of pulling/using/responding to. The whole process of turning the live, out-there story into something on paper/screen is very mysterious, often most of all to the person who’s doing it. And as I’ve also said before, the reason the Story Council tries to match up its stories with its authors is because the story can only use what its chosen author can give it. I am driven mad by stories with critters in which the critters behave nothing like the way critters behave, because the author doesn’t know his/her critters. If you can’t get it right, don’t tell the story. Everybody makes mistakes and everybody bites off more than they can chew—and this is a good thing, it makes you try harder—but if you really don’t know a cat from a kangaroo, stick to something you do know, or get some coaching from a cat-owning friend.††
Another way of saying this is that a carnivorous story is going to dwindle away into a poor sad flimsy thing if it’s given to a vegetarian author.
Anyway. I loved The Yellow Wallpaper, which is totally and utterly a classic, but that’s not what I was consciously thinking of here. But you could be right, because I’ve certainly read it—and been rattled by it. But she doesn’t eat the wallpaper, does she? Or does she?
^ She finds herself wondering what Kes and Maggie would think of each other.+
+ Or the Silent Wonder Dog and Mongo. Snork.
I am now overcome with a desperate yearning for fiction in which SWD and Mongo team up to save the world. Or, you know, team up to save Kes from scary crickets, rustling trees, and whatever may be in the basement. No doubt it would be unrealistic to hope for a guest appearance from Mongo in Kes aka New Thing, what with Mongo being the co-star of upcoming published fiction, but in my head ….
Well. Anything is possible. Jasper Fforde has proved this conclusively.††† And to the extent that I’m planning anything, I’m planning to do some boundary-crossing, preferably scandalous. I’m ten eps ahead in the writing and can’t remember which bits show up where, but I’ve told you already you’re at least going to get the first chapter of the first Flowerhair book, haven’t I? And I’m pretty sure Kes (who is about to turn forty as I’m about to turn sixty) read Robin McKinley when she was an odd bookish kid.
GENERAL JAMES B. CABELL HIGH SCHOOL
General? Now that’s an alternate universe.
FINALLY. I THOUGHT NO ONE WAS GOING TO PICK UP ON ANYTHING. Now I am myself hopeless at picking up references, but I am a little startled that no one has noticed . . . [mrrrrmgglmph].
“…A member of that family owns y—I mean, the one you are looking at, but he lives in Europe,” (she said disdainfully) “and I have never met him.”
Heh heh heh. Anybody else want to take a bet that Kes — and therefore by proxy, also WE — will be getting to meet him, sooner or later?
C’mon, Kes. This is definitely the house for you.
Kes, while a kind of alternate me, is not a perfect projection. She grew up in New York City, and I grew up a Navy brat. And I like whooshing pine trees. But this is the house for Kes. In spite of the Thing in the Cellar. Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee.
Can I exclaim from the rooftops how excited I am that she stole my daughter’s name as her main character?
Oh good. I’ve been slightly braced for someone to want to punch me out. I like Kes and Kestrel, as I’ve said before. I think I’ve also said before that various well-meaning friends tried to persuade me that there were other suitable birds and bird-names and I kept saying NO. SHE’S A RAPTOR. Also, kestrels are fabulous. Just . . . fabulous.
(speaks the proud mother of Kestrel Marie…whose last name is much more pronounceable than this character
MacFarquhar isn’t actually hard to say. It’s hard to spell.
…and whose name is shortened kindly to “Kes” as well).
It’s a good name. I think. Even if it wasn’t short for Kestrel. Kes. Whoever she is, I like her.
So, naturally, I love the story
Oh good. ::Beams::
. . . And reading Hayley, I now realize that, for me at least, I no longer envy or hate her, but pity is there. What does one sacrifice to be that put together?
About Hayley: MWA HA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Heh heh heh heh heh heh. Heh heh. Heh. —And I agree, by the way. About the Business Superwoman look.
So. Seriously. LOVING. New Thing.
Oh good. ::Beams more::
I was so excited when she described the downstairs because it is EXACTLY how the house I grew up in is (room to the right, stairs/hallway in the middle, house-long living space to the left). But then I realized that probably LOTS of house from the turn of the (last) century are built like that. And mine didn’t have a tower, of course, nor a massive porch. But at least I feel really connected to the story now.
I wasted a stupid amount of time looking for the right kind of shabby old-fashioned grandeur on line, and failed. But
. . . if you jumbled these together, made them a lot smaller, and let them go, moderately gently, to wrack and ruin, Kes’ house is something like that.
* * *
* with footnotes
** The thing that makes me curl my lip slightly in hindsight is that five (?) years ago when I started the thing, not every author on the planet was blogging, contrary to rumour and the chivvying of agents and publishers. They are now. Or at least the ones that aren’t it’s like, you’re not? Really? What do you do with your time? —this last perhaps uttered with a certain violence.
Ray Bradbury didn’t blog.
*** Theodore Roethke said it better: I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I learn by going where I have to go.
† And we were hoping to do a fifth volume on time elementals. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
†† Or a kangaroo-owning friend.
equus peduus wrote:
If this was built as a summer house… does that mean she’s going to freeze come November, or was it built so that servants could live there year-round or something?
Ahem. It was not built as a summer house.
“. . . Most of them were summer cottages, and there are only a few of them left. There weren’t too many year-round houses to begin with. Yours—I mean,” she said, blushing through her face powder, “I mean the one you are going to look at, is one of only two that are still lived in. . . .”
It’s going to be a total ratbag to heat as all big old houses are. But it’s a year-round house.
I find myself wondering how writing this compares, stress-level and/or fun-wise, to your “regular” output?
Good question. I’ve been thinking about this too, especially as the first thrill-blast of new wears off* and KES settles down to become just** another piece of writing, like the blog, or the rather too-long emails I tend to write if I write any at all (which is why most of my correspondence has gaps of months or years: this is a leap from the old hard-copy street-mail world to the new virtual one which I made with, sadly, no trouble whatsoever***) . . . or SHADOWS. Or PEGASUS XVIII. The short answer is that it’s different. And a change is as good as a rest, you know? And it does give me a chance to have some fun that I wouldn’t ordinarily have—Flowerhair, for example, or Aldetruda, who at the moment I am neglecting, but she’ll have her time. I’m pretty sure Kes has at least one other series, and I’m surer that she’s written a few one-offs. Mostly she’s a parody of me, but occasionally she’s a wish-fulfillment: she writes her stories a lot faster than I do.
But KES has three clear advantages as a blog serial. One: an 800-word KES episode takes, on average, slightly less time to write than a 1500-word Days in the Life entry—and the writing muscles it puts the strain on are neither quite the Days in the Life ones or the story-in-progress ones. Sharing the load is always good. Two: I can write KES eps any time, at any length and any speed—I can write three in a row one afternoon and then not look at it for a week; I can write half of one this morning and the other half tomorrow night; I can write two lines in two hours because I’m knitting, and because I want an hour or two to think about the new character/situation I wasn’t expecting before I start feeling my way forward again. Which leads to Three: It’s not dependent on what the hell is going on in my life. I know I keep moaning about being an introvert with a privacy fetish . . . nearly every night, and usually for over 1000 words. Cognitive dissonance alert. Well, yes, and for me too. I’m a professional writer—oh, you’ve noticed?—which means that I can (probably) make something out of nothing if I get to use words, and that’s what I do. Every night. But I can still only do it the way I can do it, and I seem only to be able to do it at over 1000 words a pop. Unfortunately. But the Days in the Life are beads on a string; each bead is pretty much its own small hard shiny separate entity, and I don’t get tomorrow’s till tomorrow. KES is more like a plaited rope—it’s all one thing. And the surprises (I had no idea about the Friendly Campfire till she turned into the parking lot, for example. Or that she was going to bring a rose-bush with her) are still all about forward momentum and that live feel of any story—and nothing about frelling clock time. I frelling hate frelling clock time.
Am hoping this will be a LOOOOOOOOOOOONG serialization.
Well, that’s still the plan. Hold that enthusiasm . . . please . . .
I have been pondering a similar, or perhaps inverted, issue. If the blog is intended as an adjunct to the career as a writer one would hope that it is less work than the, to be published commercially, fiction. We don’t know how the effort of writing enough Days in the Life material compares to the effort of writing enough of Shadows since the excerpts that have been posted are presumably “free” in the sense that they had to be written anyway. In contrast, unless the point to the exercise is just the variety, the presumption is that enough Kes is less effort than enough Days in the Life*. For those of us who only do expository writing (and most of that for compilers rather than people) the idea that creative work of the sort represented by Kes might be regarded as “less effort” comes as something of shock.
It’s ultimately less, because it doesn’t get rewritten repeatedly and obsessively. It’s not going to be nailed down in hard copy where I can’t sneak back later and change something if I need to. (Note that I haven’t done this yet, but it’s early days. And I’ve never been good at seeing through the fog ahead: my gift is about feeling that the story is there, and then trying to write down the bit that is immediately under my nose, and hoping for the best about the future.) I’m not saying writing KES is easy or cheap or that I throw it off in the odd fifteen minutes between winning a marathon and ringing a peal of Laudanum Dreamscape Whazzat Royal, because I don’t. It’s work. It’s even hard work, like any writing that you’re trying to make—that you’re hoping to make—any good is. At the same time . . . writing is what I do, in a rather more absolute sense than store-restockers put fresh bales of Pringles on the shelves. Mechanics spend their weekends taking the family to motocross events and keeping the kids’ bikes running. Accountants read PROFESSOR STEWART’S HOARD OF MATHEMATICAL TREASURES in the bath. Countertenors and coloratura sopranos go to Bayreuth for their holidays. Writers write. And given that my chosen off-duty obsessions tend to be things I’m not very good at—bell ringing, singing—it’s perhaps not surprising that writing about it is . . . comforting. (Also, being bad at stuff is better material: like writing a savage review of something is so much easier than writing a good one.)
Some other evening I may rant a bit about the Writing for Free thing. There was a very good article that was making the rounds on Twitter, and I tweeted it on too—but while I’m grateful for someone supporting the idea that us writers have to earn a living by selling what we write, only to say that we shouldn’t write, or have to write, for free isn’t the whole story either.
*I originally typoed Days in the Lift which sounds a little more angst ridden.
I prefer it to Days in the Plunge.
Being the mother of a teen boy, I appreciated Serena’s end of the phone conversation, too.
Oh good. (Also I suppose because I’ve always had to watch my weight and post-menopausally I have to live on lettuce and sprouted seeds so I have calories left over for chocolate and champagne, that plague-of-locusts thing teenage boys do fascinates me.)
Readers who “forget about” their favorite authors must not have really engaged the books to begin with.
Well . . . as someone with a memory like . . . uh . . . what was I just saying?, and also as a writer who at least once a week receives another letter/email from someone saying some variation on a theme of I’VE JUST FOUND OUT WHO YOU ARE. BEAUTY/SWORD/HERO/OUTLAWS/DEERSKIN/ROSE/SPINDLE WAS MY FAVOURITE BOOK and then I left it on the bus/my best friend made me give it back/it was eaten by alligators, and then my parents got divorced/my dog ran away/my boyfriend left me for a job doing ice sculpture on the QEII for Cunard and I couldn’t remember anything for a long time. But my new best friend/boyfriend/dog just put a copy of SUNSHINE/DRAGONHAVEN/CHALICE/PEGASUS in my hands and I SUDDENLY REMEMBERED. . . .
But the idea that readers forget supposedly favourite writers merely because said favourite writers don’t get a book out every year (which I think was the context of this comment?) and a book, preferably, the next in a favourite series . . . that’s depressing. That’s extremely depressing, especially for a slow writer who doesn’t write series.
Too sick to read blogs today, but I HAD to read this one.
And I hope it was curative.
* * *
* I wrote ep twenty-six today
** Although there is no ‘just’ about writing to a writer.
*** I have told you, haven’t I, that years ago, and for years, Merrilee had a regular refrain that went ‘we must find a way to harness the writing energy you spend on letters/email’? Hee.