July 3, 2013

Short and Sweet (?)

 

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:

http://www.flyleafreview.com/2013/07/book-review-shadows-by-robin-mckinley.html

And yes, I think Hix is pretty cute too. . . . ††

* * *

* 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.

All Change

 

. . . Or nearly all juggle around a little.

I’ve been saying for most of the last five and a quarter years that I must cut back on the amount of time I spend on the blog but . . . this time I mean it.  I have to mean it.

I have needed to cut back because I live over the time-line of 24-hour-day plausibility because I’m like that* and ‘time’ is a ridiculous human construct anyway.  I’m not going to let some frelling mechanical instrument that goes tick tock** tell me what I can and can’t do.  But . . .

The avalanche began when PEG II crashed and burned nearly a year and a half ago.  And SHADOWS, bless its pointed little head, rolled in to give me something to DO and also something to tell my agent, my editor, and get PAID FOR when I also told them the bad news about having to put off PEG II till I could face the fact that frelling PEGASUS is a trilogy and PEG II is not the end.   Originally SHADOWS was going to be short and . . . er . . . well, I get interested in the story I’m telling, you know?  And I start thinking, oh, hey, well, if that, then that, and pretty soon . . . this is nothing on George R R Martin or Robin Hobbs, but SHADOWS weighs in at about 105,000 words which to a slow writer like me is plenty.

And then, last winter, there was that tiny fracas at my bell tower, which resulted in my quitting the tower that is a minute’s pedestrian sprint down the street from the cottage and joining one that is a half-hour-plus commute in Wolfgang . . . and half-hour-plus does not include lurid adventures in quest of parking, or pelting across town (and back) from wherever I finally manage to leave Wolfgang.  And around the same time that I switched towers my one evening a week handbell group underwent meiosis and became two groups and two evenings.  I said at the time I wasn’t going to be able to do two evenings a week regularly.  But week by week I’m not very good at saying no.

Last summer I found myself agreeing to a bull terrier puppy.

This autumn I took possession of said bull terrier puppy***.  I also started voice lessons again when Nadia came back from maternity leave.†  And because this was not enough I rejoined the Muddlehamptons.  Well, my goal always has been to sing in a choir, and I’d been putting off figuring out what to do instead of the Muddles, and here I am, Muddling again, and rather mysteriously coping with the twelve-hour practises, the freezing cold church and the No Loo.  One more thing I think I haven’t told you is that while the first shock of hearing myself recorded was just how DIABOLICALLY AWFUL I was . . . the second shock was that there is actually more voice there to do something with than I had any awareness of.  I knew I had become louder, but . . . well.  That noise I’m now making almost is a singing voice, if I could get it under some kind of control.

And, this autumn, I found God, or he/she/it/they found me.  God takes a lot of time.  There’s all that praying business, and (ugh) facing yourself, and, since I’ve popped out in the Christian spectrum, there’s the Bible to read, and the 1,000,000,000,000 commentaries on the Bible, and the gazillion and twenty-six books about trying to live as a Christian, and there’s the note-taking you’ll inevitably do, and the conversations (both live and by email) with friends who have been doing this longer than you have, and the lists of more books to read and (not least) the sitting staring into infinite space and thinking ‘eep’ and . . .

And there’s going to church.  St Radegund is right around the corner of course, and I do go there occasionally, but it’s not a church I’m much drawn to.  Nooooo, I have to be drawn to monks, who are another half-hour-plus commute†††, and Aloysius’ church is only a minute or two nearer, and then there’s the abbey–I mean Forza, not the monks–which is miles in the opposite direction.  I bought a bit of flex that is supposed to make Pooka read aloud to me when plugged into Wolfgang’s speakers for all this car time, supposing I figure out how to use it . . . but it’s still time.

And neither last nor least . . . there are hundreds of uncompleted auction orders waiting my attention.  AAAAAAAAAUGH.‡  Those nights I can’t sleep?  One of the things that keeps me awake is the knowledge of all those piles of books and order slips next door in my office.  I really did get started on them when I sent the more-or-less finished SHADOWS in—bleh, whenever it was, whenever I announced it here—but I almost immediately had to go back to work on the things both Merrilee and my editor brought up.  None of this has been major, but it all . . . takes time.  And I’ve got to have these LAST editorial/authorial twiddles in by the tenth of this month, and then there will be copyediting, and . . .

And my poor neglected garden. . . .

I’m not closing the blog down.  And I will still write long rambling days-in-the-life posts.  But not as many of them, not as often.

And I’ll tell you more about my ideas for the Future of the Blog . . . tomorrow.

* * *

* I sometimes feel, especially when it’s being inconvenient, like a PUPPY WHO FEELS NEGLECTED BECAUSE IT’S BEEN AT LEAST FIFTEEN MINUTES SINCE ANYONE EITHER FED HER OR PLAYED WITH HER, that the ME is Just One More Thing on the frelling list.  Except those times when I think it’s probably saving my life.  No, you can’t do that too, it says.  Sit down.  Have a little rest.  Do it now.

** Well, I still have frelling mechanical instruments that go tick tock.

*** To the continuing consternation of hellhounds.  We’ve had her THREE MONTHS, you guys!  Get used to it!  Said hellterror puppy, just by the way, is up to needing almost half an hour of hurtling a day . . . and there is as yet no indication of a likelihood of survival of any attempt at triune hurtling.

†† I’ve now knitted two, count ’em, two, baby bibs and furthermore have given them to people with babiesAs opposed to burying them in the bottom of some stash bag or other, as happened to all those Secret Projects last year.  I don’t guarantee that either recipient has used them, or anyway has used them more than once when they unravelled instantly on contact with an actual baby, but Raphael did send me an awfully cute photo of his baby wearing hers and it does seem to be functioning.  Nadia received the second one, right before our Christmas break, not because I meant to give it to her then but because I kept forgetting to give it to her at all.

††† Although I have yet to have a parking problem, if this wet weather continues I will need a ferry.

‡ Both Blogmom and I get queries about what’s happened to the money.  The money is still sitting there in its account.  It will eventually go to one of the bell funds run by the national bell-ringers’ council, but I am NOT DOING ANYTHING WITH IT till I’ve actually fulfilled my obligations.

Of Blog Fiction

 

Mockorange

I feel that A dog is guaranteed at some point. 

Well . . . yes.  Kes is, after all, a parody of me—Kestrel MacFarquhar?  Please.  At the same time she’s had a life of her own since the idea of writing about her first occurred to me—since the idea of writing about her revealed itself as possible.  And she wouldn’t be possible if she didn’t, if you follow me.   But I’ve told you that one of the ways I know a story is ready to stop slamming around the inside of my skull and start going down (more or less politely) on paper/screen is that I can read the first sentence in my mind’s eye.  That was true for KES too—and I have never been married to a Greek geek.  And, um, no, ‘Greek geek’ only occurred to me as I was settling down to write this blog.  But one of the things that makes her possible, makes writing fiction for the blog possible, is that every time I have to make a decision—every time I’m not sure what comes next—every time the story wants a little help from me, I think, okay, what would I do?  What would I want?  Very often the response from the story is NO WAY JOSE but it gives us somewhere to start negotiations.  I’m a kind of tent-peg to pin the flapping thing down in this frelling wind.  I don’t myself feel you get to rip yourself off quite this blatantly in, you know, real fiction.

            But when you’re guessing about what’s going to happen, well, keep me in mind, as it were.  Although I am not going to give her ME. 

b_twin

Or, to really make life trickier, she could find a stray alpaca. Good thing she has a van. 

Unfortunately the van is going home tomorrow*, although she’s going to end up with a somewhat unconventional (and possibly alpaca-friendly) vehicle.  Or anyway not the vehicle she had in mind.  The problem with alpacas is that I don’t know any.  I keep wondering what would happen if I tried to shine up to one of the local alpaca keepers.  ‘Hi, I write novels for a living, and I want to put an alpaca in one’.  I’m afraid they might back away from me slowly.  Or not so slowly.  I know lots of critters, so I’m happy to make one up till it comes alive and takes over—the dragons in DRAGONHAVEN are like that:  I knew that Jake was going to raise one, and I knew how that relationship began, and I could guess it would have a strong personality, but that’s about all I knew—but while your story is its own thing if it’s going to be worth reading by strangers, it can still only eat you.  If you haven’t got the vitamins and minerals it needs, it can’t grow that way.  I can’t grow an alpaca.  Maybe some day.  I love the whole guard-alpaca/llama thing. 

            There are a few alpacas at the critter shelter where Maggie works in SHADOWS.  But they barely have a (ahem) walk-on part.  Sigh. 

KathyS

Still imagining Wonderdog versus the Crickets of Doom.
With the cricket chorus breathing like Darth Vader. 

City Girl moves to the country for the first time at the age of (almost) forty?  And plans to live alone?  She so needs a dog.  I’d spent a fair amount of my childhood in the country, and then boomeranged back and forth between city and country for a while as a grown-up.  When I first left Manhattan and went back to Maine (this hadn’t been the plan, but that’s another story), I had housemates, and I still remember the way the nights sounded out in the sticks again.**  Then when I moved alone into my little house in Blue Hill—and that was even in a village, although it was (then) a small village and I was kind of tucked away in a corner of it—THE NOISES GOT LOUDER.***  

KatydidNL

Am I the only one who really wishes she had a copy of these Flowerhair books? 

I answered this already, didn’t I?  But since then . . . I’m trying to stay some eps ahead of what I’m posting, so I have some idea where I’m going†, and have recently written Kes remembering her first meeting with Flowerhair.  She’s like, what?  What’s happening?  —which is a fairly common author reaction, or at least this author reaction.  And I realised that I’m going to write that scene at least:  the what is happening scene.  At this point I have no idea if there will be more interpolations or not. 

b_twin

Roses.  Methinks our heroine may in trouble… After all, you generally just start with one 

Kes is already in more rose trouble than she realises.  Mwa ha ha ha ha ha.  

abigailmm

Don’t stop there! What DOES K stand for? Kareen? Kiss? Koala? Kaiulani? 

Snork.  I would have been devastated if one of you had guessed (and posted it) correctly, so I’m glad you didn’t.  At the same time . . . how many birds begin with ‘K’?  If you’d twigged that the parody was deliberate and, um, not very subtle.  I had various friends trying to suggest more mild mannered birds and I was all, No!  She is a RAPTOR!  Kestrel occurred to me very early on but I spent some time dithering (and reading up on raptors) in one of my fits of oh-gods-maybe-I’ve-only-got-it-half-right.  But she is Kes.  She just is. 

katinseattle

What does the ‘K’ stand for?”

I hesitated.

This is the woman who said she doesn’t like cliffhangers?  

The blog has ruined me in a number of ways.  I didn’t use to like puns either.  But I can’t imagine cranking out a blog without getting to play with the language punnily.  And cliffhangers . . . remember that torturing my readers is one of my pleasures.  The blog is a lot of work, and I couldn’t do it if it weren’t also fun.  And it’s not like I ever torture you extensively, or for long.†  

Mirkat

Oh small towns. How I love and loathe thee. No one ever used house numbers – we lived in the “Johnson” house for a decade. My husband’s family has now lived in the same small town for OVER TWENTY YEARS and had 7 kids go through the k-12 school and they still aren’t considered “local.”  

Sure.  But your nosy neighbour will also bring your washing in when it rains and you’re loading up at Godzilla Foods three towns away—possibly including picking up that package of frozen raspberry and onion lo-gluten bagels she asked for.  You can buy fresh lobster from the fisherman who’s a friend of yours at the end of the dock, and he’ll slip you a moose steak when he goes hunting that winter, even if he likes to pretend you’re too urban to deal with either one.  Myself, I’ll take my neighbours knowing who stays overnight at my house (ahem) in exchange for my knowing that if I’m ever snowed in, somebody will get me out.  And twenty years, eh.   Twenty years isn’t so long.  I’ve been twenty years in this particular five-mile stretch of Hampshire and I am certainly not a local. 

rainycity1

Kestrel eh? Pretty odd name, but could have been a lot worse (eg something along the lines of Bliss or Desire (but beginning with K obviously)).

You mean like, ‘Kissy’? ‘Kasandra’? I wonder what other ‘K’ names we could come up with? An opportunity has been missed. 

Kalinda.  Kacey.  Kelly.  Katisha.  Remember I like Kes.  

rainycity1

Ithilien wrote on Sat, 19 May 2012 21:48
But is it a friendly or unfriendly shadow???? ::dangles on tenterhooks::

 

I know where I’m placing my bets but I don’t want to share my guess in case I’m right. 

Hold that thought.  I don’t write mysteries—although I think Cathy may have some evil plans, they may just be that it amuses her to see me jump and scream—but I’d be grateful not to have things given away.  But it’s probably only honourable to warn you that it’s a fair time before you see the shadow close enough to identify.  I’m not sure when myself.  It’s just that even tomorrow is still kind of a ways off and I don’t think it’s tomorrow. 

shalea

Would you have a problem with one downloading the episodes of the New Thing into one’s Nook? I’d hate to impinge on any sort of copyright whether it’s imposed by law or by the wishes of the author. 

How very nice of you to ask.  Thank you.  Extra points, a gold star and a very large chocolate brownie.  The short form is, as you already know, that I can’t stop you.  The very slightly longer form is . . . I want you to enjoy KES so if putting her on your Nook makes you happy, then please feel free.  The very, very slightly longer yet version is that I would like to hope that there will eventually be some official pulled-together version of KES, but I can’t see that far into the future, and at the moment she’s only about 20,000 words long ( . . . I told you I’m writing ahead).  You will be the first to know. . . . 

* * *

* Tomorrow in the story.  Tomorrow is a long way away in terms of episodes. 

** Right down the road from E B White.  Just by the way. 

*** Although it’s true I had a stream outside my bedroom window. 

† It also gives Cathy a chance to look over my shoulder before it goes public. 

† Unless you’re going to hold it against me how long it takes me to write proper published books.  Which would be very unkind of you.

Signing. Survived.

 

I AM SPECTACULARLY OFF LINE.  SPECTACULARLY.  I CRASHED AND BURNED WITH DAZZLING, NAY, EPIC GRANDEUR LAST NIGHT, AT BOTH THE MEWS AND THE COTTAGE, WHEN I TRIED TO POST WHAT FOLLOWS HERE NOW, AND I CAN’T GET BACK ON.  THIS COMES TO YOU BY WAY OF A FRIEND’S MOBILE TOGGLE, AND WHEN I’VE POSTED THIS I WILL DISAPPEAR FOREV . . . I MEAN, UNTIL COMPUTER MEN CAN COME AND SORT ME OUT WHICH, SINCE THIS IS A FRIDAY, BECAUSE ALL DISASTERS HAPPEN ON FRIDAYS, MAY NOT BE TILL NEXT WEEK.~  HAVE A NICE SOMETHING OR OTHER.  GAAAAAAH.

OH FRELL’S BELLS.  You’re going to have to wait at least till tomorrow for some photos, I’m afraid.  Cathy R took lots, as per my request, and she’s even loaned me her camera’s memory card and . . . it won’t fit in my computer.  I thought I had an extra super-sized slot*, but . . . no.  And Mrs Redboots, while eight of us were sitting around at the café afterward waiting for our food,** emailed me the ones she took, but Outlook has managed to lose them.***
So.  There was a signing.  I think it went pretty well.  The nice man at the shop was smiling when we left, but that could of course be because we were leaving.
There were no bats last night either, and I’m pretty sure there really weren’t, because I was sleeping badly enough that I’d’ve noticed if there were.†  Got out of bed finally in a weary, resigned sort of way and stared owlishly at the heap of pink leotard, lacy blouse, black leather mini, sparkly silver tights and sequinned leopard print All Stars.
It was sheeting rain.  Okay, that’s fine, it means I don’t have to worry about watering my pots, and it may mean I get to sleep tonight due to the signing being over plus a continued absence of bats.††
Hurtled hellhounds.
Put on the pink leotard, lacy blouse, black leather mini, sparkly silver tights††† and sequinned leopard print All Stars.
It stopped raining.  Perhaps this was a good omen.
I went to train station.
Got on train.‡
Knitted, somewhat frantically, all the way to Waterloo.  Golly, the blood-pressure headaches and tension stomachaches I might have avoided, all those early years when I did do a certain amount of business travelling, if I had discovered knitting.  It’s not like it makes all the anxiety go away, but it is like managing to run just fast enough to stay ahead of the ravening monster chasing you.  Or like sometimes, when you’ve taken a painkiller, and it’s worked, but you can still feel the thing with teeth trying to get in and bite you:  the drugs can hold it off but can’t make it go away.   Knitting on the way to a public author thing is a bit like that.‡‡  And in this case frelling PEG II has been messing with my head again, and so I was thinking irritably about the amount of ratbaggery I’m putting up with over this thing-I-said-I’d-never-do, a more-than-one-book story, as I was on my way to sign copies of its elder sibling. . . .

* * *

There are dramas unfolding even now, after I’m home again.  First I found out I wasn’t going to be able to get at Cathy R’s photos, and then I discovered that Mrs Redboots’ took a left turn when they should have taken a right and are now in Heilongjiang Province.  I emailed Vikki K, who has a slight parallel tendency not to go to bed early, and she promised to email her photos.  This was going swimmingly . . . always a bad sign . . . when the last few photos refused to open.  Oh, frell, I said, and was about to email Vikki again and ask if she could resend, when I had a sudden attack of paranoia . . . at which point I discovered that the earlier ones, which had been opening, weren’t opening any more.
None of the photos that Vikki had just saved my day/night/blog post/credibility with by sending tonight was now available.
And then I crashed off line.
And I have spent the last hour trying to get back on line again, and screaming.‡‡‡   My computer is performing acts of aggravated iniquity I have never seen before.
And I’m now writing this wondering if I’m going to manage to post anything tonight.  There will be a nice irony in the night of my signing being the one I bomb off the air, right?  You’ll all think we all went out and got spectacularly drunk and danced on tables and were chased through the streets by the Met’s finest and then reeled home so late I barely made it to my piano lesson.§  Unfortunately . . .
So I’m now going back to the cottage, and I’m going to try to sign on there, and . . . And then I’m going to bed.  Some day I will finish telling you about the signing.  Some day there will even be photos. . . .

* * *

~ It might amuse you to know that my first thought, as I reeled from the overwhelming implications of being off line, was, well, I have lots to read.  Oh, and knit.

* In fact I remember it.  It’s directly under the smaller one.  Clearly on some other computer.  Possibly in some other life.

** And waiting . . . and waiting . . . and

*** I can hear that crackling static that passes for its laughter.^

^ And that was before everything else went wrong.  Predictive crackly laughter.  Arrrgh.

† I dreamt, among other things, about the Muddlehamptons’ concert^.  I dreamed that they were actually putting on CARMEN, and that I was singing Carmen. I have a really mean subconscious.  Really mean.

^ Which, it now being after midnight, is TOMORROW.

†† Tomorrow night, of course, I’ll be awake from worrying about the frelling concert.  If I wake up Saturday morning humming the Habanera I may run away.

††† I had forgotten how ITCHY the flaming things are.  It is one of the great failures of modern science, that they appear not to have yet developed a non-itchy sparkly fibre.

‡ With ticket helpful Penguin minder had preordered and sent to me.  How’s that for efficient minding.  And the train was on time.  Penguin apparently also has pull with the travel gods.

‡‡ One thing that can be said in favour of doing public things a little oftener than I do is that then they’re less eeep-making.  A bit like ringing quarter peals.  A quarter peal feels like a harrowing major event.  Then if you do a few in a row it’s like, oh, a quarter peal.  I can do that.

‡‡‡ What a good thing I’m not singing Carmen tomorrow.

§ At 3 pm.

Return of Ask Robin

 

In honour of the fact that PEG II has not been kicking me in the head for about a week now*, which is to say for a change, I thought I’d revert (briefly) to admitting that I am, in fact, a writer, and not only a hurtler of hellhounds, a multi-piercings veteran of life with roses**, a maker of strange noises that might under careful laboratory conditions be counted (dubiously) as musical, a wrangler of bells*** (various), and a reader of other people’s books.  No, it’s true, I write books.  Sometimes I even answer questions about the process.

            So I thought I’d give you an Ask Robin. 

            The whole rattling-on-about-myself thing is tricky to negotiate even when I’m yacketing about stuff that has only just happened:  how many times can even a daily-blog audience be expected to bear the news that the hellhounds aren’t eating again?  Or that they’re keeping me home suddenly and inconveniently . . . the way they usually (suddenly and inconveniently) keep me home?  But at least by declaring it (almost) a DAILY BLOG it’s both warning and guideline.  Writer stuff is much harder—at least for me.  Writing is about going somewhere else.  The best I can explain it is by saying, read the book I wrote about/from that somewhere else.  That’s the best I can tell you.  Why would I want to tell you the less-best?

            But, because people do keep asking, and keep asking even when I’ve been over this writer-ground before, here are a few of today’s thoughts about some of the standard writer-type questions from someone who clearly has too much time on her hands.

What do you consider your writing strengths?  Weaknesses?

If I stopped to think in those terms I’d cripple myself.  I’m one of your less secure and self-valuing writers, you know?  The stuff that’s good is good because Story took me over more rather than less.  The stuff that isn’t good isn’t good either because Story had an absent-minded moment and loosened its grip or because it hit one of the places in the McKinley Channelling System so squashy that it fell over, like a Lamborghini hitting the Honey Island Swamp. 

Have you ever written a scene and thought, “By gods, this is utter crap!”?  What do you do then? (ie, tear it out, crumple it into a ball . . . only to rescue it hours later and smooth it out, reread it, and think, “Well, it’s not THAT bad.” …..)

I try to stay out of it as much as possible.  I write whatever it is I am given to write the best I can and keep going.  If I stop for value judgements . . . see previous answer.  Keep going, keep going, keep going!  When I hit a spot I know is swampy on the next draft I try to pay as little attention as possible to the dreck on the page, and as much attention as possible to the STORY which will tell me what I need to do if I can only hear it clearly enough.  This is also why I am a nightmare to edit.  Stop confusing me!  I’m trying to listen to the Story! 

How often do you edit your own work in progress?  Do you start from a basic outline and go from there, or just have a general idea of a plot, plop it down onto paper, and then let it take shape?  When do you reread your own stuff… in the middle, when it’s ready to go to the editor, or constantly?

I mostly slog through it draft by draft from the beginning to the end and then over again till I can feel it coming together . . . in spite of me.  See previous answers.  I cannot afford to get bogged down in my own shortcomings.  It’s not about me, it’s about THE STORY.  My responsibility is wholly and totally to THE STORY.  Wasting time calling myself names is just . . . wasting time.  And I know my own tendency to think that I am The Worst Person Who Ever Did X.  I am the worst bell ringer in the history of bell ringing!  I am about to become the worst choir member the Muddlehamptons have ever imagined!  And I am DEFINITELY the worst knitter who ever lived!!!  My great gift is, I finally realised, embarrassingly not all that long ago, obstinacy.  I’ve talked about this before.  Obstinacy keeps you going.  Nurture it.  Appreciate it.  Granted I may need it more than some.  But when my head is full of voices shrieking invective, I turn my metaphorical coat collar up against the really nasty weather, and trudge on.

Where do you keep your notes (if you have any)?

When I still wrote first drafts on yellow legal pads I used to write in the margins.  I now mostly write notes when I think of them in the body of the manuscript on the computer screen—in another colour.  Usually pink, if you’re asking.  Ahem.  If they have to do with what is going on right now, in that scene, I just write them and keep going.  If they are about some other part of the story I’ll leave blank spaces on either side of the (pink) note.  What I do not do is try to find where they do go.  I’ll pick that up on the next draft. 

What does your writing space (if you have one) look like?

I’m a nest-builder.  I dare say I was born like this, but it was definitely aggravated by being a military brat and moving on every year or two when I was a kid.  The perhaps somewhat peculiar result of this is that while I always have an official writing space I’m conscious that I can write anywhere.  At present while my licensed (not to say authoritative) office is at the cottage, and it’s full of favourite books and journals and pictures and bristling bulletin boards and little noodgy things and bits of paper with quotations on them taped to what wall space is left (not very much) . . . I can and do write anywhere.  It’s all about Story, you know?  The rest is just vanity—or part of my life as a human being rather than a channeller of Story.  Because of the weird business of Peter and me living in different houses, at the moment I do a lot of my writing on Peter’s kitchen table.  I almost always write the blog here.  I’m here/there now.  Finishing a glass of (fake) champagne, and preparing to go back to the cottage for a nice hot bath and the reading of someone else’s book.   

* * *

* Although I’m not necessarily enjoying the tenor of its blandishments either, but that’s another blog for another day.

** It’s like this if you’re going to cohabit with alien species.  There are inevitably scars.  Now ask me about bats.

*** Indeed tonight’s expansive attitude is also in honour of the fact that in the absence of the treacherous Niall^ I was in charge of bell practise tonight^^, and no lives were lost.  There were maybe a few nicks in some auras, mainly mine, but hey.  Peter made mayonnaise to comfort me.  Life is good.^^^ 

^ Ringing masters aren’t allowed to go on holidays.  Didn’t he read the by-laws? 

^^ ARRRRGH

^^^ Especially because I am getting out of the next tower reps’ meeting.  Tower secretaries are automatically tower representatives too, unless they tell off some other poor flunkey to do it.  That would be me at New Arcadia.  I went last winter, I had thought I’d put myself on the email list for future meetings, and assumed (grimly) that I was now permanently for it.  I knew there was supposed to be another meeting around here some time soon so I finally asked the district secretary.  No, he said, Vicky is still tower rep of record, and I understand that Roger is her representative.  —I blinked once or twice because Vicky is usually the rather terrifying model of organisation, and it was funny she hadn’t said anything to me.  But she’s had one or two other traumas going on recently so I guessed this had just slipped into the shadows.  No big.  But tonight at practise I was puzzled by the note on the board in Vicky’s handwriting asking if I was going to the meeting.  So when Vicky looked in briefly on her way from trauma one to trauma two, I said, Aglovale says that Roger is going to the tower reps’ meeting for you?

            He is? said Vicky, looking nonplussed.

            Roger, pulling on a bell rope at the time, faltered, and said, I’m what?

            Going to the tower reps’ meeting, I said, helpfully.

            I am? said Roger.

            You are, I said.  The district secretary says so. 

             Mwa ha ha ha ha ha.

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