I HAVE JUST FRELLING ORDERED A FRELLING [YARN] SWIFT AND A FRELLING FRELLING NOSTEPINNE. Two days ago I didn’t know what a nostepinne was. I think I’ve seen the word somewhere and assumed I was too young/old and that ignorance might not be bliss but was probably better for the blood pressure and the too easily over-stimulated fantasy-writer’s imagination.* And then I brought up the yarn bowl question on Twitter the other night and someone else started talking about her nostepinne and I’m like whoa, are you sure you want to discuss this in public? **
Diane in MN
Does anyone out there have any useful guidelines for when you cut your losses and frog again and when you soldier on
A glance around my house would reveal that I can tolerate a lot of imperfection in some areas, but I HATE visible mistakes in my knitting and will rip (or tink, if I catch any soon enough) back to get rid of them. More than once, if necessary and if the yarn will take it, if I like the project.
I don’t think I’m a perfectionist about anything any more***. Spending a lot of time and effort at something you’re essentially pretty awful at—let’s say bell ringing—will do that to a person.† But I agree about actual errors. Part One of this particular project has only one really gruesome error which I think would disappear when I got to the seaming-up stage, supposing I got that far—and I left it in because I had NO idea what I had done and therefore no idea how to undo it. But especially on something that is, for me, relatively small-gauge, which is to say 4 mm needles [US size 6], and a non-stretchy yarn, which is this cotton-bamboo stuff I’ve made several baby bibs in and I like it but it’s not very forgiving, the—ahem!—slight variability of my stitch-making starts to show up over time and distance. I ripped out my first couple of bibs once each, but they ended up not too embarrassing.†† This New Secret Project is bigger and . . . well. So I’ve got to the end of Part One and put the wretched thing on a stitch holder—it’s getting so that every time I order yarn††† I automatically order another pair or packet of stitch holders‡—rolled it up and put it aside. I’ll think about it later.
Which leaves me with only ::urglemmph:: other unfinished projects and therefore of course I need to start something NEW!!!!
Which is going to be Manos del Doohickey—I’ve left the tag back at the cottage‡‡—and it’s mostly silk with some wool so it’s NOT VERY STRETCHY again, uh-oh‡‡‡, but I want to make myself a LARGE SQUARE (SOMEWHAT) WOOLLY SCARF. Because I’m tired of how difficult it is to find Large Square Wool Scarves. And the reason this is the particular New Project that leaped to mind—despite the small-gauge-unstretchy thing—is because it will be ACRES AND ACRES OF MINDLESS GARTER STITCH YAAAAAAAAAY. I’m always amused at these high-falutin’ knitters on Ravelry going on about how this or that pattern is too boring because there’s too much garter/stockinette/ribbing. I LOVE GARTER/STOCKINETTE/RIBBING. I tend to knit to calm down. I don’t want to have to think! I don’t want to have to memorize a frelling pattern! I don’t want to figure out why my sleeve-shaping decreases look like tiny stairs rather than a nice smooth line like in the frelling photos! I just want to keep looping the yarn around the needles!!!
But first I need to wind these wretched hanks into something I can use. . . .
* * *
* I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I nostepinne in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.
Not all of Monty Python is totally deathless and mesmerising, in my cranky^ opinion, but I would have trampled a few grandmothers to have written that particular piece of dialogue. Although some of my attitude problem may be due to having a few issues with Monty Python. For some reason. I mean, it could have been Sir Rupert. For example.
Minstrel: [singing] Brave Sir Robin ran away…
Sir Robin: *No!*
Minstrel: [singing] bravely ran away away…
Sir Robin: *I didn’t!*
Minstrel: [singing] When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled.
Sir Robin: *I never did!*
Minstrel: [singing] Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about, and valiantly, he chickened out.
Sir Robin: *Oh, you liars!*
Minstrel: [singing] Bravely taking to his feet, he beat a very brave retreat. A brave retreat by brave Sir Robin.
^ And easily grossed out. Just by the way.
*** Although I still want my socks to match what I’m wearing, even if nobody but me is going to see them. Or nobody but me, Peter and the hellcritters none of whom care. I care.
† Circumstances are not helpful. Last Wednesday due to the very mixed assortment of ringers who turned up for practise I rang ONCE. ONCE. I got a lot of knitting done. Speaking of knitting. On Sunday afternoon there were eight of us. Which meant we all had to ring all of the time. Which since most of us were the weak end was a trifle challenging for the ringing master and I was somewhat drily amused to note that I was being relied on to hold it together in a way that I would not have been if he’d had any choice. You know I would get to holding-it-together better sooner if I got more practise time in. Sigh.
†† And I finally asked one of the recipients if the thing, you know, WORKED? Because babies keep getting born, in the alarmingly incessant way of babies, and bibs are something I can, apparently, do. Yes, he said. It’s very chewable, and it goes through the washing machine fine.
††† Not that this would be often or anything
‡ And another frelling tape measure. What do I DO with tape measures?!? Is there a Tape Measure Planet like there is an Odd Sock Planet?
‡‡ Oh please. What is Google, chopped liver?
‡‡‡ McKinley, not that we expect you to be relentlessly intelligent or anything, but the two most outstanding unfinished projects^—which is to say well enough started to count as ‘unfinished’, which are First Cardi and First Pullover, are NICE REASONABLY LARGE GAUGE STRETCHY FORGIVING WOOL, you meatloaf, why don’t you go FINISH ONE OF THEM?^^
^ Plus legwarmers. I think I’m on my fifth pair. You know this weather may be my fault. It’s the middle of May, WE MAY HAVE AN OVERNIGHT FROST LATER THIS WEEK+, and I’m knitting legwarmers.
+ And I am not going to dig up my petunias/begonias/gladiolas/dahlias/osteospermums, so I hope they FRELLING COPE. Maybe I could lay some legwarmers over them.
^^ And the current not-given-up-on-yet Secret Project is also mostly wool.
I’m always going to write some posts around your forum comments and then I forget. So let’s see if I can remember long enough to catch up a little.
. . . while reading tonight’s post [Chilly singing] I was humming the Gloria from Faure’s Requiem and was going to recommend Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna as I feel they have similar airy, light, and joyful qualities. Then I realized I was humming the wrong song. :/ The Lauridsen (and the Faure, for that matter) are still worth the recommendation.
I love the Faure but . . . Good old YouTube. I’m listening—first to Lux and then to the Songs of the Roses that Diane in MN mentions later in this thread—as I type. I’d never HEARD of Lauridsen. I’m so ignorant.
Although I could have done without the banner ad: How to sing, really sing. Breakthrough method releases your unique voice. Watch free video here!
I’m only interested if it involves chocolate and champagne. And I’m a little worried about the escape clause provided by that ‘unique’. *
Speaking as someone who’s seventeen, I always write drafts by hand – but that’s actually because I’m a really good typist. When I write things by hand, I can write one sentence and think of the next, then write that sentence while thinking of the next, and carry on. If I try to type a first draft, my fingers catch up to my brain and I get stuck.
YES. EXACTLY. I AM EXACTLY LIKE THIS. I TYPE A WHOLE LOT FASTER THAN I THINK. And it’s like falling off a cliff when you reach the end of your thought and your fingers are still whirring away wanting something to do.
It’s true that I write the blog straight on the computer—it would be way too much like work if I didn’t—and I start other stuff on the computer a lot more than I used to. Still. Paper is the real deal. Paper doesn’t disappear at a (usually mysterious) keystroke. And I have more little notebooks (spiral preferred, so they lie flat) with pretty or striking or tactile covers than any four people need. I tend to write drafts in pencil, but I take notes in ink, and I just like the process of an old-fashioned fountain pen gliding across the page.
Though I also just like paper–I usually type up the draft, then print it out to make edits and then type those in… But most people at school with me think this is insane.
When you win the Nobel Prize for Literature you will have the last laugh.
How many people are there in the Muddles?
Do you sing with piano or organ? I only ask because I am part of a group which can run to twenty or more and we gather in homes (those belonging to folks with parking not entirely filled with snow) where the living-dining-kitchen areas are one glorious (or not) space.
I know that kind of space is rarer in the UK, but we make do.
Both piano and organ, but mostly piano for rehearsal. As long as there’s an accompanying instrument I don’t think it matters that much till the next concert is getting close. There are something like forty Muddles members on the books but I would have said we rarely have more than twenty-five at practise, and we were about fifteen last week. I know. I think about this. So does Gordon, because I’ve spoken to him about it. But it’s unlikely anyone has a drawing-room big enough if all forty of us showed up—and since I’ve never managed to sing at a concert, possibly the last couple of rehearsals or so everybody turns out. Except the superfluous first soprano who is going to the opera, unless she has flu or a deadline rendered intolerable by said flu, and doesn’t go to the opera either.** My murky fantasy is that we start a splinter group of oh, twelve or so.*** There are lots of living spaces that could hold a mere twelve—including Third House’s sitting room. Mwa ha ha ha ha. I would throw in use of my cheap portable electric keyboard free.
Susan in Melbourne
I find that commercial and public interiors in the northern hemisphere are kept unnaturally warm in winter. [In the UK] I moved between hotels, restaurants, meeting rooms in universities, public transport, and everywhere I was too hot. On arrival in a new hotel room, I’d rush for the window to fling it open, and then to the heater to turn it off. A colleague who has recently moved back to the UK from Australia was telling me that she and her partner just had to leave a restaurant recently because it was too unbearably hot.
WHERE? This sounds like America to me, not frigid chilblained England. I acknowledge that I’ve been too hot occasionally, like in the Heathrow hotel room where Peter and I saw the original CSI for the first time (this was long ago) the night before flying to the States. And there are still, I believe, criminally insane stores that leave their front doors open to the street and blast the entry with the best their central heating can do. And anybody can have a Bad Wiring Day when the on switch gets stuck. But generally speaking . . . I like pubs with open fires, and then I want to sit next to them.
Robin, you obviously mostly inhabit private spaces rather than communal ones, and I’m guessing that you wouldn’t be burning fuel at the greenhouse-layer-thinning rate that commercial premises seem to be doing. Yours is the more realistic experience of the real (chilly) world outside.
Indeed. This is why my laptop and I crouch by the Aga in the kitchen. It’s not because my office is still full of stuff waiting to be doodled and I can’t bear to go in there with all of it staring at me reproachfully†. It’s because I get COLD in my office. At very least I’ll turn the central heating on and I’ll probably dust off the electric fire and open it up too. If I’m sitting by the Aga, if there are penguins in my office I don’t care.†† Also, there’s the hellterror. The hellterror does not truly grasp the concept of GO LIE DOWN yet, and her big crate lives in the kitchen. The Aga system is not popular with hellhounds, whose favourite bed, as I’ve told you, is in my office†††, but Pav will grow up. Or maybe I’ll just rope her feet together.
^ Also: token footnote. So no one complains about the lack of footnotes.
Seriously? You have very demanding readers if they’d complain about a lack of footnotes
DEMANDING. TOTALLY. VERY DEMANDING. MY READERS. THEY ARE.‡
* * *
* Nadia is a little cynical about poor old Dido. Drama queen, she says. ‘Remember me’ indeed. —I’ve always liked Dido although I agree that topping yourself because your boyfriend dumps you^ is not a healthy, balanced reaction. But—I’ve gibbered about this before—your attitude toward a piece of music changes spectacularly—unrecognisably—as soon as you start developing a relationship with it by trying to perform the sucker. However inadequately.^^ So I’ve been engaging with Dido on a whole variety of new levels as a result of trying to sing her. And it may be entirely the wrong kind of courage, but it does take courage to do yourself in. I think there’s some steel there—and some anger. I’d like to get that into my performance, cough cough cough, with the despair and grief.
Purcell is Radio Three’s composer of the week. Today we had Dido. The presenter went on rather about the recording he’d chosen, and I have loved the soprano in other roles and agree she has a fabulous voice. And when we got to the famous Lament, for which no stop has been left unpulled, I’m all: STOP FRELLING WHINING YOU MAUDLIN COW.
^ I don’t find his offer to defy the gods and stay very convincing. Just by the way. Aeneas the creep. Aeneas the faithless. All he is is a pretty pair of biceps.
^^ Which is about as much explanation and excuse as anyone needs in answer to my craven question, why should mediocre amateurs even bother? This is why. Because performing widens and deepens your understanding of a major art form. Your brain and your emotions are not limited by your technical skill. Horizons beckon. Angels+ whisper. Doodah doodah.
+ Or supernatural being of choice. Djinns. Fairies.#
# Out hurtling hellhounds today I saw a van. Gremlin Landscaping I read. I blinked and looked again. Gemini Landscaping. Okay. That’s better. I don’t think I’d hire the first guy. But I think I may have a creating-my-own-reality problem.
*** Assuming SATB, four part music, there have to be at least eight of us because I’m not singing all by myself. If there are second sopranos we have to be at least ten.
† Believe it or not, all you amazingly, astonishingly, superlatively, supernaturally patient people, I’m still turning the frellers out at about two a week. Or I was, up till the last fortnight when there was too much generalised illness in this household and I lost the plot for a while. But I should be starting up again next week. But you are all aware of the refund button on the side bar of this blog? Not only is there no disgrace^ to asking for a refund . . . remember that some day in the fuzzy distant future WHEN I’VE FINISHED THE BACKLOG Blogmom will put up a doodle shop where the refund button is at present and you can reorder. We will be taking commissions at a strictly-enforced rate of about two a week.
^ The disgrace is all mine+
+ Including my continuing failure to knit square squares which means the rose and pawprint requisitions are still in the aaaaaaugh stage.
†† As long as they clean up after themselves.
††† And this was true before the arrival of the hellterror.
‡ However there is no footnote shortage today.
It’s been Christmas for several hours. HAPPY CHRISTMAS. But I haven’t got to bed yet so as far as I’m concerned it’s still Christmas Eve.*
Peter was doing extremely well. I’d only got it out of Third House’s attic and brought it down to the mews at about 3:30. And fed my assortment of creatures lunch [sic], bolted a few olives and yesterday’s brussels sprouts and hared off to ring bells at Forza for the crib service. I came home via Third House again to get the rest of the stuff to, you know, decorate the tree. There wasn’t room first run, with a car full of critters.
Okay. Tree’s up. Now I wrap the stem/trunk/knobbly plastic central column with tinsel. This hides the strange bare patches in real trees and the equally strange green tape used to hold fake trees together. Also, I like tinsel.
And yes, that’s dinner in a bowl on the right with chopsticks across it.
And the next course of dinner on the table on the right.
Between previous photo and this one there were three hurtles–one long hellhound and two short hellterror–plus midnight mass. With lots more carols. I’ve found that the answer to my ME-related inability to stand for very long is to sit in the back row and stand behind my chair and then lean on its back. This frees up all those tight little anxiety cells so you can SING LOUDER. During the passing-the-peace-around one of my neighbours said, I’m enjoying your singing. –I’m not sure if this might be Britspeak for shut up, okay? You’re bothering me.
The tree’s on a table this year in the fond belief that we can keep her off it. But for the early everything-all-over-the-floor stages a lack of hellterror is critical. That is in fact her crate on the left covered in an orange blanket (the green towel is covering the hole in the orange blanket).** When she barks she gets her curtains closed. She was barking at the thunder. We’ve been having thunder, lightning, hail, and torrential rain. Joy. I keep reminding myself I’d rather have rain than snow–in a country where no one knows how to deal with snow–but I think less rain might be, you know, possible. It would certainly be desirable.
Meanwhile I’m getting tired of climbing over the sofa.
What kind of a cheesy scuzzball do you think I am? I admit that if I didn’t have to have bells if there are bells to be had, I would bag the horrible little ropes of bells which TANGLE LIKE A !”£$%^&*(!!!!!!. Which is why we don’t have lights. Peter used to put the lights up and he hates lights . . . because of the whole untangling thing. And I’m not going there. I have enough things to melt down over. Including, once a year, my two ropes of decorative mini-bells.
I haven’t finished draping the rest of the sitting room in tinsel yet. TOMORROW. I CAN DO IT TOMORROW. I mean . . . later today.***
* * *
*All right, it’s Christmas and Christmas Eve. I went to Midnight Mass–which is at 11:30–but the vicar said, yo, let me be the first to wish you Happy Christmas, as the big hand rolled past the twelve. Which was still several hours ago.
** Behind the crate you can see a chair with presents on it. Yes. Other people get their presents wrapped before the last minute. Before after the last minute. Sigh.
*** It’s almost time for the monks’ morning prayer. Hmmmm. No, McKinley, get a grip, you have PRESENTS TO WRAP. And you’ll enjoy the duck and champagne and mince pies and brandy butter more if you’ve had some sleep. . . .
I had a computer archangel here for MOST OF THE DAY and I HOPE that some of the more egregious nonsense has been despatched to Computer Gremlin Purgatory where it can either repent or, after a decent interval in which to realign its wiring to holiness and humility, be sent on to headquarters and fry. Love that smell of burning hardware. I seem to have my email addressbook back WHICH WOULD BE NICE. Possibly email will now revert to, you know, sending and receiving. The best thing however, supposing it has been genuinely exorcised, is the SELF ZOOM feature on this laptop, which is where I (theoretically) do the most work, although it’s been getting harder and harder* as my screen ratchets around like . . . a hucklebutting hellterror.
But the presence of an archangel does tend to throw the lower orders into disarray. This would include me and dependent hellcritters. The pattern of the day was perhaps set when I stepped in dog crap not only in the churchyard but ON THE MAIN PATH THROUGH the churchyard. What is the MATTER with people?!? Every time a little old lady glares at me, out with one of my shifts of hellcritters (and I never am out without a hellcritter or two), I cringe. It’s not me lady! I PICK UP!
. . . Anyway. I was in the churchyard with the puppy at the time, juggling lead and Pooka while I texted Raphael asking for ETA since he could not possibly have got past us on our way there: Already here, he texted back, laconically. Pavlova can move surprisingly fast on those little short legs and we hucklebutted back in unison.**
But by the time he left I was dazed*** with . . . failing to understand anything he told me.† And I had three pairs of beady little eyes all wanting to go out. Now. In fact, a couple of hours ago. The problem is that the hellhounds always go out first. I put the hellterror out for a pee so she’ll last till it’s her turn, but in terms of actual hurtles, the hellhounds have precedence. But Pav was already showing signs of dismantling her crate and I couldn’t entirely blame her, while hellhounds will go back to sleep more or less indefinitely. I’ve mentioned that it’s WINTER, right? It’s FREEZING out there. There is ICE on the ground†† and your seventeen-year-old car needs to run about fifteen minutes to get the needle off COLD. I casually tucked Pav under my arm, nonchalantly picked up her lead on our way to the door, and left in my house slippers and ONE light cashmere pullover††† and no hat, no gloves, no coat . . . while the hellhounds watched suspiciously but were clearly appeased by the lack of any sign of a Real Hurtle, ie, shoes, gloves, coat, hellhound harnesses. . . .
I lasted our shortest ten-minute round and had to bite my tongue not to scream COME ON every time she stopped for a sniff. But it worked. Pav had her second mini-hurtle, hellhounds were positively friendly when we got back, and rioted with Pavlova while I shivered into my proper gear, locked her up, and prepared to go out for a real hurtle.
Oh, and I’ve written this entire blog AND THERE WAS NO ZOOMING.
* * *
* Meanwhile Astarte the iPad has connectivity issues. Neither Raphael nor I have much idea how much of them is the weird, I mean unique, I mean weird, way connectivity is set up (apparently) on the iPad (I think Raphael made an attempt to explain this to me but I started wailing and rending my garments really soon and he didn’t get very far) and how much is the ongoing and apparently permanent fact that all the wiring on the cottage’s cul de sac is made of cheap string and chewing gum, and broadband cough cough cough sits on this unstable framework uneasily, like a dowager on a shooting stick.^ Have I mentioned recently that the local MPs and the town and county councils keep announcing high speed broadband for this area? They’re still announcing it. I don’t know if ‘high speed broadband for this area’ includes rewiring cul de sacs that are presently making do with cheap string and chewing gum.
But this means that when I am having a Bad Night, as it might be last night, and I decide I might as well turn the light back on, grab Astarte and do some work, if said work includes emails or the blog, I probably can’t because The Server Is Not Available.^^
Fortunately there is reading, hard copy or e-. And knitting.^^^
^ Depends on your dowager, of course.
^^ Yes I take Astarte to bed with me.+ And no I am not going to get up and go sit at a desk. If I did that I’d never get any sleep at all. Also, in the WINTER? There are three good location choices during the winter at the cottage: in front of the Aga. On the sofa covered with hellhounds.++ And in bed+++. You will note that ‘sitting at my desk’ does not appear in this list.
+ Hands up people with iPads who take them to bed.
++ The only occasions the hellterror joins us at present is when she’s being Suppressed. We will, eventually, all four fit on the sofa at the mews. I’m not sure this can be done on the littler sofa at the cottage. I may have to ask Atlas to build an extension.
+++ Possibly with supplementary hellhounds. I know hellterrors have a remarkable line in pogosticking but I’m not sure my tall bed is ever going to be an option. At a little over seventeen pounds Pav is still quite haul-aroundable especially because she’s used to it and has always dangled well# but I will start losing ground here shortly. I’ve said before that I can carry Chaos at a pound or two under forty but Darkness at a pound or two over is a struggle. I’m hoping for a delicate svelte hellterror like Auntie Missy. A nice little square short-legged thirty-five pounds I could probably carry around in brief bursts indefinitely so long as she remains agreeable.
# I have mixed feelings about her supporting her own weight by standing on my hip or my leather belt: this also gives her rocket-launch capabilities.
^^^ One of my favourite yarn and knitting sites is as bad as the blog.+ Arrrrgh. If this is supposed to be a money-saving add-on it needs to be attached to my other favourite knitting sites as well.
+ My own blog doesn’t love me. How unfair is that.
** I’m not as good at it. It requires four legs and attitude. More to the point she was happy to gallop out in front and not linger to get under my feet, pull my shoelaces and hang off my jeans hems—going HOOOOOOOOME where there is FOOOOOOOOOOD. Usually I’m proceeding much too slowly for her. Lead manners. We are attempting to install lead manners.^
^ What do you mean, walk? FOOOOOOOOOOOOD.
*** I spent a good hour clearing off and scrubbing down the deep windowsill over the sink, and repotting most of the plants that live there undisturbed for months and months barring watering and the occasional jolt of food. Mostly I neglect my houseplants because . . . I neglect my houseplants, but as I was doing an unusually good job of tying up a repotted begonia^ I was thinking that the other reason I tend to ignore the teeming and seriously untidy jungle that are all the windowsills at the cottage is that houseplants are marginal at best—plants don’t actually like living indoors—and that while pruning and feeding outdoors usually results in a gratifying burst of growth, pruning and feeding indoors is usually the sign to die.
^ Whose name is Buffy. No, really. Buffy and Peardrop tend to be sold together so unfortunately I think it refers to the colour.
† Where is that wax tablet? I bet my iPad stylus would work on it just fine.
†† ::Checks the location of her Yaktrax::
††† Although there were two cotton turtlenecks under it. And the longjohns. And the two pairs of socks.
Shortly after I posted last night’s blog, the nuraddin* inbox pinged. Uh-oh, I thought, here we go.
But no. A WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING was writing to me. She’d just read the blog and thought I needed cheering up. She goes on in a highly salubrious manner about my books, and she seems also to be saying that she likes this blog because it isn’t all about writery things. But the second to last sentence made me laugh and laugh:
Thank you for existing and writing and generally refraining from giving up on your more annoying readers and moving to Mars.** We appreciate it, and you.
Thank you, Ms EG.***
Another arrrrrgh here. A lot of self-publishers seem to think that libraries will be overjoyed to receive their brilliant work, but this is not in fact the case. If there are no reputable reviews of it and no other patrons have requested it, we probably don’t want it. Never mind the space it (and all the other unsolicited self-published books) would take up on the shelf–it also has to be cataloged (time-intensive for books that are not already in the national cooperative cataloging system) and processed, which costs actual money in work hours and materials.
This too. And worth giving some air/blog space to reminding people of. I was last night a trifle fixated on the prospect of our young entrepreneur collating writing advice from me, JK Rowling, Stephen King, William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, and Dr Seuss†, which your average library might very well be interested in. But it will probably not clutch to its bosom with glad cries How to Write Good by the local poker club and tea-leaf-reading society. Despite the inclusion of muffin recipes and hints on how to start your car in really cold weather.
But really the bottom line is that librarians have no sense of the rightness of things and the true order of the universe. †† They’re very like (um, do I need to say professional?) writers that way.
* * *
* For those of you who have never been moved to contact me directly, nuraddin is the email address that you EVENTUALLY make your way to from either web site or blog, having first passed a great many warnings saying things like BEFORE YOU ASK ME WHERE I GET MY IDEAS, PLEASE READ MY FRELLING FAQ. But you would be amazed at the number of people who STILL ask me where I get my ideas.^ Or similar. Or if I have any writing tips just for them because they’re stuck on the story they’re writing . . . ::bangs head against wall:: THAT’S WHY WRITERS ALL HAVE WEB SITES AND FAQs THESE DAYS, YOU KNOW.^^ Anyway.
^ Or possibly you wouldn’t. In which case, there, there, I sympathise.
^^ And before we had web sites, we had FAQs printed up on pieces of paper with a few nice design features and possibly a photocopied signature, which our publishers would (probably) automatically send out for us if we asked them to.++ I wonder what the difference in investment is between creating FAQ sheets, printing them off, and paying postage on them, and creating frelling web sites. Publishers’ frelling web sites, mind you. I don’t get a penny of help running my blog or web site. Merrilee says this is a good thing because it’s therefore fully under my control, and my publisher can’t force me to think up inventive new ways of answering hoary old questions like Where Do I Get My Ideas+, because publishers tend to like you to stick to the subject which is being a writer and I’m not very good at sticking to that subject. As you may have noticed. But when I’m a YEAR LATE TURNING A BOOK IN AND THEREFORE A YEAR LATE GETTING PAID, the idea of a little benign direction—you know, whips, chains, hot pokers, publicity assistants—doesn’t seem so bad, if there were FISCAL CONTRIBUTIONS INVOLVED.
+ Schenectady is the standard answer, but it’s worth checking under the dog on your lap or in the dusty gap behind the books piled beside your bed, where the spare pair of glasses you haven’t seen in several months have fallen and the vitamin pills you tend to drop land because you’ve forgotten again and already put your hand cream on.
++ They would also pre-read your mail, if you asked them to. You never had to see the crazy abusive ones. Unfortunately as street mail fell off and email took over, this excellent system began to break down. I no longer know what the standard policy about writer street mail is at any of my publishers, but I can tell you that sod’s law guarantees that the crazy abusive one will get through somehow.
** Although probably not Mars. It would be a struggle growing rosebushes and I think the oxygen tanks would chafe the hellhounds’ skin.^ However Oisin and I were today discussing our respective requirements for the isolated uninhabited internet-free islands we are each going to move to some time in the possibly not too distant future.^^
^ Bullies are tough.
^^ When I arrived he was playing the piano. Show off.+ WHO IS THIS COMPOSER, he said. NOOOOOOOOO, I said. I can’t do anybody but Mozart. And maybe Beethoven.++
+ These frelling piano teachers.
++ It was Rachmaninoff. Give me a BREAK. It was Rachmaninoff PRELUDES. Oh, sure, I knew that. And for my next trick I will sing the Queen of the Night Der Holle Rache aria. Yes, that aria. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2ODfuMMyss
***And you’re a lot more tolerant of the ending of PEGASUS than I would be. That it’s taking me LOOOOOOOOONGER than it should to get the sequel written is one thing, but I would totally hunt down the writer of an ending like PEG’s and kill her if she declared she wasn’t going to write a sequel. I know that I and Certain of My Readers disagree about the ending of SUNSHINE. . . . But PEGASUS? Jiminy toads and beetles. It needs a sequel. It totally needs a sequel.
† If I wrote THE DRAGON AND THE SWORD then maybe Shakespeare, Christie and Seuss are available for writing tips.
†† As well as having no sense of humour. Also just like writers.