I’m better. But I’m not enough better. Although this may be a good thing because I cancelled my dentist’s appointment for tomorrow—three hours, no lie, and at £300 a minute I’m expecting my entire mouth to be gold-plated with cabochon diamonds generously studding all the teeth that show when I smile.* If I ever smile again after paying the bill. Anyway. I was supposed to go in and be hammered and excavated and shot full of creepy toxic dental anaesthesia tomorrow, but I don’t dare so soon after a major ME shut-down day. I’m not actually thrilled with putting it off—now I have to go through the Approaching Dread phase twice—but because I am a clueless la-la-la brain I’d managed not to notice I have a handbell wedding—that is, a wedding I’ve agreed to ring handbells for—this Saturday. The three of us, Niall, Gemma and I, are finally only getting together for a practise run-through this Friday, the day before—and the day after I was supposed to spend three hours at the dentist. If I’m very polite the ME will probably let me do this: I have no negotiating skill with dental anaesthesia hangovers. So it’s kind of just as well it’s turned out this way. I cautiously went to tower bell practise tonight, which was not a total disaster although the brain was definitely deliquescent by the end, and Gemma was asking anxiously about the wedding (it’s her friend’s daughter who’s getting married). The worst that happens is that we’ll have to ring plain courses, I said.** And I may have to sit down occasionally. And we may have to shift to smaller bells*** if my wrists give out.† ME is just one big fat frelling har-di-har-har after another. Arrrgh. Anyway. I’m better.
Meanwhile it’s still short Wednesday.
A friend send me this a few days ago: http://www.matthaig.com/some-fucking-writing-tips/ ††
The link’s address gives you fair warning about the one thing you need warning about. If bad language bothers you, don’t go there: he does say going in that he’s just coming off a long gig where his only directive was that he couldn’t swear, and he had a lot of catching up to do.††† But the writing tips made me laugh and laugh.
Although this one made me laugh even more:
Haig also writes very good, very funny books. I even blog-recced about TO BE A CAT. I admit I am shamelessly waiting for THE HUMANS to come out in paper. I could buy the e version . . . but I don’t want to. I want to be able to drop it in the bath when I laugh.
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* Supposing there are cabochon diamonds, but I don’t fancy scratchy facets against the inside of my lip.^
^ I think tongue, cheek and lip piercings look painful.
** I ring methods on handbells, remember. Not tunes.
*** It’s a big church. Even big handbells are going to be kind of lost. Maybe we could stand on a large box with a megaphone. Handbell weddings I have attended previously have been at seriously quaint old rural churches, not some frelling urban monster which except for the exigencies of church hierarchy which I don’t understand ought to be a cathedral.
† One of the oh so terribly amusing things about Growing Old with ME is that you have no idea what’s frelling causing anything. Do my hands hurt because I’m having an ME flare or a rheumatism/arthritis flare?^ Discuss. No, don’t bother to discuss. Have a cup of tea and think about something else.
^ I read somewhere recently that almost everyone has at least some arthritis by the time they’re sixty. So I have lots of company.
†† I especially commend #1 to your attention. All of you who think being a writer is some kind of glamorous.
††† And—ahem—on a bad day I sound just like this. On a day when the hellhounds aren’t eating, the hellterror has just eaten another blanket,^ PEG II is dead in the water, it’s raining and the right-colour All Stars have a hole in the bottom, the house is full of spiders and my singing voice is full of crackly splinters I SOUND JUST LIKE THIS.^^
^ She has MILLIONS of toys! She’d rather shred her bedding! ARRRGH!
^^ If I can’t sing I might as well shout.
‡ Although #3? Feh. He’s a Brit, he can find a bell tower to join. And #9 made me laugh so hard I nearly threw up. You might not want to be eating when you read it. Or maybe it’s just I’ve heard from JesusRainbowUnicorn too. Although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Idaho. Possibly Yorkshire.
And because of course you’ll immediately want to read (or reread) THE POISON ORACLE, yaaaaaay, because Small Beer Press has just reissued it, both hard copy and ebook:
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* I’ve met her^ and . . . ahem . . . this is not a good photo. Say I.^^
^ She ran a panel that Peter was on at some murder-con thing a million years ago.
^^ Author photos! AAAAAAAAAAAUGH!! –I hope they at least asked her permission.+
+ I think the one of Peter is pretty cute. But I may be biased.
** And if you read the fine print carefully you’ll see that it’s coming out on audible too. I can’t get it to show as either available or pending on audible, but that may just be me. I tend to listen to theology out hurtling lately. This’ll make a change.
With reference to last night’s topic, I received a street mail letter today—yes, ye olde streetye mailye, which tangible objects do find their way to the mail slot in my door occasionally—and which included this quote offered for my comfort: “My computer may have beaten me at chess but it was no match for me at kickboxing.”
Hee hee hee hee hee.
. . . By this however I gather that the writer reads this blog at least occasionally and so I will also say something I repeat here at intervals: while it’s true that I’m an increasingly terrible responder-to of book mail YOU WILL CERTAINLY NOT GET AN ANSWER TO YOUR STREET MAIL IF YOUR RETURN ADDRESS IS NOT ON THE LETTER ITSELF. Forwarded letters are usually sent original-envelope-free. And even when they aren’t, I tend to pull them out of their envelopes and lay them flat where they have some chance of being unearthed in a pile of To Do before they grow whiskers. Some of the unanswered letters tucked tidily in my letters-in-envelopes box predate my move to New Arcadia. Which is getting on for nine years ago, if you’re counting.
Today’s letter is, however, one of those sent on without its original envelope—and without a return address on the letter. THANK YOU, MS G.H. FOR THE NICE THINGS YOU SAY ABOUT MY BOOKS. She does add that she knows I’m busy and doesn’t expect a reply so it’s possible she’s just making an executive decision. . . .
Here’s another quote from a different direction: Khaled Hosseini, THE KITE RUNNER and A THOUSAND SPLENDED SUNS author if you’re staring at those unusual-to-many-western-eyes syllables and wondering where you’ve seen them before, has a new book out, AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED. He was interviewed for TIME magazine back the end of May, and my eye was caught by this metaphor for the writing process: . . . “It’s a little bit like when you move into a home. You haul all your stuff and shove it in the house; the things you need are there, but it looks horrible and doesn’t feel like a home at all. The subsequent draft is about saying, OK, this couch belongs here. Let’s get rid of this painting. Let’s put this armoire here. . . .”
I may be more sensitive to a house moving metaphor than I would have been before April 2012 when KES began.* Especially when poor Kes’ is a house move that goes on and on, at least to your and my perspective—where she’s standing she’s still only been in New Iceland two and a half days, it’s just the translation process goes out in mingy 850ish-word lumps.** She is spending her third night in Rose Manor—spoiler, snicker snicker—but we’re sure having a time getting her there—NO spoiler, snicker snicker snicker.*** But Kes and I, despite being largely each other’s alter egos, have very different views of house moves. It’s true that when I moved into the old house here, me and my eighty-two thousand boxes of books, a rich collection of All Stars and a baby grand piano, I felt it was going to swallow me without leaving a trace, like disciples sacrificing an alien wanderer for Yog-Sothoth’s† favour.†† Most of the house moves in my life, including the most recent one, however, have been a question of cramming everything through the door and as hard up against the walls as possible just to get everything in, and then I sit in the last remaining scrap of empty floor space and have a nervous breakdown.††† Kes moving into Rose Manor is MAJOR WISH FULFILLMENT, although again, it’s how the story chooses to go.‡ But for Hosseini’s metaphor, I’m saying, an entire ARMOIRE? You think I’ve got wall space for an ARMOIRE? And Kes is saying, get rid of a painting? Get rid of something?
She’s a hoarder at heart though. Give her time.
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* Someone, well after the 11 April anniversary this year^, posted to the forum that she wondered if there would be any special events for said anniversary. There should have been. I don’t remember what epic horror was occurring in my life at that point AND PLEASE DON’T REMIND ME but I didn’t think of it in time. Maybe next year.
Which reminds me to ask, somewhat plaintively, you are still reading it, aren’t you? Comments have dropped off to near nothing which isn’t a problem AS LONG AS YOU’RE STILL READING IT.^^ Apparently the programme/difference engine/virtual chipmunks that keep benighted WordPress rolling don’t want to separate out page hits in a useful manner, even if you ask it nicely. Which means I have no idea if the blog spikes or flops on KES days. I want to keep writing it. But whether or not I keep giving it away in this format depends whether it feels worthwhile. Blogmom is sharpening her whacking and whapping technology to see if she can extract a better KES-visitor guess than bluh bluh bluh um.
^ Anyone who looks up the first ep will see that the date is given as 12 April. It was the 11th of April, it just happened to be after midnight. As so often with my blog. Like tonight.
^^ Although I really appreciate the comments KES does receive.+
+ I’m glad JoJo was popular. The story goes as the story goes, but when that emerged on my computer screen I did worry a little that it was either worthy, ie ticking the disabled box#, or veered a little too far over the sentimental boundary, an area I’m very fond of, but one does have to stop before one drowns nastily in the River Treacle.
# Will we meet JoJo’s sister? If KES lasts long enough, yes.
** I still need to earn a living. See previous footnote. If KES isn’t working as advertising I may flog it some other how.
*** I’m not a nice person. You knew that.
† I wonder how Yog-Sothoth feels about reading?
†† Note that it took me ten years to run out of walls to put bookshelves on. Ten years. In a house with floor space roughly equivalent to the Colosseum. And I wasn’t particularly trying.
††† Which is why I bought a second/Third House. The TBR piles by my bed at the cottage are still ginormous.
‡ Oh, and the janitor? The janitor is based on Lived Experience. I was glad to move out of that building.
I AM GOING TO FINISH THIS RATBAGGING, MULTI-BLASTED CHAPTER TONIGHT. I AM.*
So especially since Peter never writes me guest blogs any more and what are husbands for, anyway?, I thought I would borrow his new post for his site . . . about audiobooks.
And, yes: tricky, the selection process for readers. . . . Oh, frell, I do have things to say about audiobooks. But not tonight. THERE’S THIS CHAPTER . . . **
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* Never mind which chapter. And never mind what’s happening. I realise it would come as a shock if the truth about being a writer were ever revealed to the public at large: you all know that we go to bed late^ and get up very very late^^ and then hang around in our dressing-gowns eating chocolate and drinking champagne and/or very very black tea^^^ and occasionally going into a trance during which the Muse dictates the next chapter(s) of our WIP(s). Which is why we all have boundless time and energy for superfluous pursuits like gardening, singing, bell ringing, knitting, reading other people’s books and keeping our rather too many dogs magnificently fit from lengthy daily hurtles.^^^^ You know all that, right? So the idea that a writer might work too hard would make you helpless with laughter, right? That by the end of a day with too much bending over the computer in it she might feel like wet cardboard and/or something a hellterror has been chewing is totally alien to your rich understanding of the authorial life? . . . Sigh.
^^ If this meant I was actually getting some sleep I’d be all for it
^^^ Balance is very important to the creative spirit
^^^^ And because the Muse dictates, thus taking all that exhausting responsibility off our shoulders, we never ever get in over our heads with some competing creative endeavour, even a little one. Say, doodling. And what about all those songs I want to write? —I should not, in fact, be taking voice lessons or playing the piano: but in the first place, try and stop me, and in the second place, I’m pretty awful+, which is kind of its own defense. Both my drawing and my song-writing might just conceivably get somewhere if I had the spare brain and heart energy to put into them.
+ Yesterday’s voice lesson: siiiiiiiiigh. Clearly I shouldn’t have said out in public that singing for Oisin last Friday hadn’t been too bad. You’d think I could get away with not too bad, wouldn’t you? Nooooooo. On Monday Watching the Wheat wasn’t too bad. But then Linden Lea . . . was too bad. SIIIIIIIGH. I froze up for some reason and started doing my patented vocal impression of fingernails on a blackboard. Arrrrrgh. Nadia suggested I take notes, the next time I sing well, that’s ‘well’, at home, of what I’d done to get there, and we’ll try and replicate it next week. I was thinking about that today. First, have had a voice lesson recently. Yesterday is good. Have sung at least enough to preserve that ‘sung in’ sensation yesterday evening. Sing like a mad thing today whilst hurtling your variety of hellcritters. Learning new lyrics is good because it takes your mind off worrying about the quality of the noise you’re making. Have fun. Oh. Yeah. This is why I’m doing it, isn’t it? It’s not like I’m planning on starting a band# or auditioning to sing Mrs Lovett.## But the point is I tend to do my best singing at home in the rush following Monday’s voice lesson, even if the lesson itself was not of the finest. By Thursday I’m starting to slip, which is the other part of why I have this ingrained habit of bottling out of singing for Oisin on Friday. Then it’s all downhill over the weekend till a fresh new Monday. Feh.###
# A sort of Steeleye Span tribute band with a few extras. There Is A Tavern in the Town. Copperhead Road. Che Faro Senza Eurydice.
## Although I’m going to learn The Worst Pies in London. If there were some fool willing to be Sweeney, we could learn A Little Priest.
### Hmm. Well, there are a couple of things I do at home that I don’t do for Nadia. I mean that I’d be willing to admit to . . .
** And if I’m still alive at the end of it I want to sing.
I have, as regular readers know, been making another of my ATTEMPTS to cut down on the ridiculous amount of stuff I keep trying to jam into my life and the twenty-four crummy little hours in an entire day.* Well I’m declaring Wednesday to be an Official Short Blog Day, because it’s the only regular double-drama weekday: the matinee is the silent prayer service at St Margaret’s with Aloysius** and the evening performance is tower practise at Forza.*** This week however we also have a major invasion of family arriving on Friday so I may exercise my new short-blog skills again soon.†
But for tonight I will leave you with a pretty amazing advance review of SHADOWS from a blogger who tweeted the link:
And yes, I think Hix is pretty cute too. . . . ††
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* I’m not even counting cruising on-line yarn sales and cross-referencing with Ravelry about both the yarn and what I might be able to do with it. I needed another time-waster. I don’t fritter away enough time reading book reviews and sample chapters and making lists. The latest variation on that theme is sheet music.
** Although he and I are the only ones sitting on the floor on zafus. It fascinates me who with advancing age and ME has an increasing number and amount of stupid aches and pains that I can sit cross-legged and more or less motionless for more than forty-seven seconds. I can’t sit on a chair without fidgeting, but plop me down on my meditation or, in this case, prayer cushion and I subside into a surprisingly convincing facsimile of calm. Unfortunately this goes away again as soon as I stand up, and I suspect trying to introduce a laptop to the situation would not go well.
Those old Zen masters were clearly onto something about human anatomy however. If any of you want to try it, I bought mine—on Aloysius’ recommendation—from http://bluebanyan.co.uk/meditation-cushions.html Mine is the bog-standard buckwheat zafu.
*** Not too bad, thank you. But I went to the twice-a-month additional practise for the slow and dim at Fustian last night and was told to go home and learn the calls for Cambridge minor. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I can’t ring a plain course reliably. They seem to think learning what happens in a touch is going to help. Good ringers have no clue what it’s like being a not good ringer.
† I’m also really enjoying Guest Post Sundays. I have two left in the queue and then. . . . Any of you who have either promised guest posts and then run away apparently forever, or who are contemplating all those fabulous photos you took of the Inca trail and dawn over Machu Picchu and wondering what you want to do with them . . . ahem. Allow me to make you feel welcome and desirable.
†† And yes—sigh—I’m aware that my ‘slow to get going’ is one of the reasons I’m not a fabulous best seller and not worrying about money all the time. But I don’t seem to be able to help it. It’s the way my stories go. Aggravated, I’m sure, by the fact that I tend to like this approach in other people’s books. The story is the story, but it is inevitably shaped and coloured by you the teller. Which is one of the things that keeps us tellers awake at night.