I’ve told you, haven’t I, that PEG II ends possibly even worse than PEG? Slightly depending on your definition of ‘worse’.
Ummmm. No. I don’t think you had. And if you had I had BLOCKED IT OUT. Thanks.
One of us is doing a certain amount of blocking anyway. Like I’m blocking the whole trilogy thing. THERE ARE TWO BOOKS LEFT. AND I HAVE TO REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST ONE. BECAUSE THERE’S A FIRST ONE. Arrrrrrgh. I was reading a snarky review somewhere of someone else’s first book of a trilogy, and the snarky reviewer was saying how tired she was of authors feeling they have to produce trilogies and that this one is already failing to support the length. Well, I can’t speak for the length-supporting—and I’m sure some authors, possibly desperate to earn a living*, which does happen, silly us for quitting our day jobs, have signed up for a trilogy for the ‘paid three times’ aspect—but some of us don’t choose to write trilogies, trilogies choose us. One might almost say mug us.
I didn’t mean to finish anything on a cliffhanger. The end of PEG was supposed to be the end of part one. The end of PEG II was supposed to be the middle of PEG II. I don’t do time, I don’t do distance, I don’t do length or word count. . . . I am Not of This World. Which explains a lot really.
I blame KES for your growing fondness for cliffhangers.
It’s the other way around. The end of PEG was a big, Oh well hey moment, even though I knew a lot of people would hate me for it.** Writing KES is an interesting experience*** not least because of the 800-or-so words per episode set-up and the need to create some structure out of the situation. Eight hundred words doesn’t give you much opportunity for momentum. Itty-bitty cliffhangers are a way to make the story feel like it’s moving forward.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
So have I missed something, does Pegasus II have a pub. date yet, that you are already anticipating reader’s reactions?
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH. I HAVEN’T WRITTEN IT YET.† I’m anticipating reader reactions because PEG II also ends on a cliffhanger and I know what the end of PEG got me. And if you ever browse around in the blog pre-PEG you may come across one of the occasions when I warn you that PEG has a Frodo-was-alive-but-taken-by-the-Enemy ending. Readers frequently surprise me but some things can be successfully assumed. Like that cliffhangers make a lot of readers cranky, especially when they’re not expecting it.††
Remind me to have her crate off the kitchen table and on the FLOOR before that [that the hellterror is too heavy to lift] happens
I’m sure she’d be happy to leap up on the table without you lifting her.
Yup. She will soon. She can’t quite bound reliably up on the chair from the slippery kitchen floor, and then she doesn’t have enough spring without a run at it to boing it from the chair into the crate. But she’s now busy making me feel ENORMOUSLY GUILTY because the minute I put her on drugs and started feeding her more she’s having an unscheduled growth spurt. Ask me how I know this (she says, rubbing her aching arms†††). Sigh. . . .
* * *
* Scary publishing story? Here’s a scary publishing story for any of us who aren’t J K Rowling or E L James—and for you/us readers. I tweeted it a little while ago but for anyone who doesn’t immediately click on every link, here it is again: http://stephanieburgis.livejournal.com/311674.html
Books are not widgets. They are not one size fits all. Another one of similar dimensions produced by another company is not a suitable substitute. And it is not okay that the big guys are playing hardball with the little guys’ livelihoods and future careers because they can.
I would like to believe that when this gets sorted out both sides, who are, in fact, in the book business which does, finally, depend in some fashion on authors, will make some good on the books and writers that are being squeezed now. But do I believe it . . . ?
** And I have—or anyway had, since I tend to delete them—the email to prove it. What continues to fascinate me however is the number of people who seem to believe that was the ending. I know I don’t write series or sequels and that I may even have made a slight doodah about the fact that I don’t write series or sequels, but it genuinely never OCCURRED to me that anyone wouldn’t recognise a cliffhanger when they saw one. Also . . . have I ever ruined one of my heroines’ lives and left her in a crumpled heap on the floor? Maybe some of these people have never read any of my other books and don’t know my reprehensible tendency toward the Technicolor sunset finish. I grant that some books end more Technicolorful than others^, but do you really think Sylvi and Ebon are parted for life? Please.
^ I still get furious, appalled or gravely disappointed mail about the end of SPINDLE. These readers and Ikor should get together. They could start a club.+
+ I’ve said this before. But I think it again every time I get one of these letters.
*** Especially the part about HAVING NO IDEA WHERE IT’S GOING. I know most of the immediate future, aside from the way every story changes in the process of writing it down, and I have some idea about some things farther ahead (or sometimes farther to one or another side), and I recognise as you might call them hot spots where there’s more story if I can wiggle what is there already around and get it aimed in the right direction, but mostly I have to trust to the extremely alive critter that KES is, and hope it/she continues lithe and frisky. I AM OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE. I DON’T DO SERIALS.
† I’m in the early No, no, nooooooo phase, including the Huh? What? I wouldn’t have put this in if the story didn’t promise me there was a reason NOW WHAT THE MANGY TICK-INFESTED FRELL WAS THE REASON?^ This is a not uncommon phase mid-story but I’m not used to having some of it out there in public already.
^ Distant sound of story, giggling.
†† Not to worry. Much. There will be a Technicolor-ish sunset ending. Eventually. I think.
††† Although I can still tuck her under one arm because she puts her feet in my pockets. Southdowner warned me about this. . . . But really it’s a useful talent. Usually. Except when she uses it to trampoline herself out of your grasp.
The good news: hellhounds ate lunch. The bad news: Eventually. This is the first really long grim eating-resistant patch they’ve had since Pav came home and in the first place I’m out of practise being made this crazy and in the second place I. DO. NOT. HAVE. TIME. FOR. THIS. NONSENSE. Night before last Chaos didn’t eat more than two mouthfuls of supper—Darkness scarfed his and looked like he’d eat more. Last night I gave Chaos less . . . and Chaos scarfed his, looked like he’d’ve eaten more, and Darkness didn’t eat more than two mouthfuls. AAAAAAAAAUGH. And . . . which is why I feel obliged to be made crazy TRYING TO MAKE THEM FRELLING EAT . . . you can pretty much tell who didn’t eat much last meal: he’s the one who tries harder not to eat anything NEXT meal.
Hellterrors are clearly my future.* But I sometimes think Pav carries it to extremes. I’d heard rumours of dogs that will lick up a homeopathic pill if you offer it to them—the pills are sweet, after all. Pav does. No problem. Hellhounds do not, of course, hellhounds who closely inspect even bits of chicken before they accept them (when they accept them), although fortunately they are only weary rather than hostile to my periodic prying open of their mouths to dose them with one thing or another. I wouldn’t DREAM of trying to give them actual medicine any way but stuffing it down their throats by hand, or rather by poking finger. Pav’s first pill a couple of days ago I went through the business of opening her mouth to put the pill at the back of her throat, and she was so HEY, DO I GET TO SWALLOW SOMETHING? THAT’S GREAT, I LOVE SWALLOWING THINGS that because I am a silly person I offered her her next pill on the flat of my hand, like offering a horse a carrot. She ate it. She picked it up and ate it. I waited a minute—probably with my jaw hanging open—to make sure it didn’t re-emerge. Nope. The next one I gave her the same way and I heard her chewing it up. Crunch crunch crunch (they’re kind of big pills for a relatively little hellterror).
. . . It’s been another frantic day. Fridays usually are.** And in a few minutes I have to face hellcritter supper, two-thirds of which is likely to be fraught.
* * *
* I’ve told you I had my hand pretty much poised over the phone to make the appointment to visit the local greyhound rescue when I saw the ad for whippet-cross puppies—and that I came out of hellhound puppyhood gasping that I was getting too old for this and they were probably my last puppies. Ahem. Pav, however, as puppies go, is so frelling easy that I can imagine doing this again^, but I was thinking, if I ever get to the greyhound-rescue point again, a good rescue shelter knows its dogs, and I CAN ASK FOR ONE THAT EATS.
^ And if I breed the little hussy+ I almost certainly will
+ Southdowner asked me if I had a plan in place for when she comes on heat the first time. I said that I was going to continue to crate them, and crate them separately, and the hellhounds thus far had never shown any great interest in bitches on the make. . . . So you’re hoping to get away with it, said Southdowner, only a little sardonically. It’s not impossible, she went on, but bullies tend to be sexy little things. I was afraid you were going to say that, I replied sadly.
** Try warming up your singing voice while your hellhounds are refusing to eat their lunch. Between the sheer ARRRRRRGH factor and the absolute necessity not to say ARRRRRRRRRRRGH to them, your voice snaps shut like a switchblade. I sang anyway. I am DETERMINED this time to start singing for Oisin regularly. I am NEVER going to get used to singing with someone else doing something else/an accompanist/a partner if I DON’T DO IT. Meanwhile I’d had this possibly sensible^ idea that I might have a better run at figuring out the system for singing-with if I started with songs that I know really, really, REALLY well—like the songs I sing when I’m out hurtling^^. So I fished a few of these out of the rather terrifying stack(s) of music standing beside and around the piano^^^ and discovered . . . that in the weeks, months or years of singing them away from the piano I have, in a few cases . . . as one might say developed my own version.
I sang ’em anyway. I tried to sing them the way Oisin was playing them. . . . #
^ Sensible? Sensible? Who do I think I am?
^^ I’ve been thinking about this. When I was a kid you heard people singing—out walking the dog, or the guy at the garage pumping your gas, or your friend’s mom when you went home with someone after school (because in the ’50s in America your friend’s mom would be home). I’m not so old I remember a time before radio but I certainly remember a time before transistor radios had completely taken over—when people still sang because there wasn’t a professional doing it better out of some small shiny electronic box near at hand. Even then though you still heard ordinary people singing sometimes . . . you even heard them singing occasionally through the early eras of portable playback gadgets. And then the Sony Walkman happened. Wiki says it launched in 1979: I remember it (and increasing numbers of rivals), in its turn, completely taking over in the ’80s. And I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone over the age of about six singing for no particular reason in public. I remember being a little uneasy back then about the turn on, tune in and drop out aspect of everyone’s favourite new toy—I was a teenager in the ’60s after all—although I succumbed pretty soon. I’m maybe more conscious of the dangerous attractions of voluntary isolation than someone who works in an office and quite reasonably can’t wait to plug in away from his/her annoying colleagues. The professionally creative always has the excuse of needing to earn a living for locking herself away from the rest of the world and music can be a very good way to engage with that ratbagging story that won’t tell her what it wants. I’ve already answered my own question about why a nearly talent-free amateur dweeb should bother studying music—because any experience of performance spectacularly opens out your relationship with all music—but I’m still not going to try to strongarm anyone into coming to the Muddles’ next concert. But . . . I think we’ve lost something, if people really don’t sing while walking the dog(s) any more, or hum off-handedly, and possibly off-pitch, while standing in a queue at the chemist, rather than automatically getting their iPod out and closing themselves off with earphones.
^^^ Very similar to the TBR pile(s) around the bed at the cottage. And let’s not talk about the yarn. In the cupboard, under the bed, and in the too-short-for-another-shelf-of-books-because-my-moron-of-a-carpenter-didn’t-do-what-I-said space+ above the upstairs bookshelves.
+Maybe he had a vision that I was going to need stash space in a few years.
# Which in the case of, say, Benjamin Britten taking the mickey out of Peter Pears, trying to follow what your pianist is doing is not helpful.
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.
Fiona tried to kill me today.
And after we were stopped, sweating and shaking and trying to drag our adrenaline levels back down out of the stratosphere but ALIVE, and beginning to get our breaths back, she turned to me and said earnestly, Think of the blog material!*
Okay. I’m thinking of it. On the whole I feel a near-death experience is carrying the relentless quest for blog material a little far.
I told you that Fiona and I were playing hooky today. We were going to play more hooky but I got caught in a time warp with a mild but annoying stomach virus and a non-eating hellhound. No, not Darkness—frelling Chaos. WHAT THE FRELL YOU FRELLING FRELLER. Arrrrrgh. I’ve been really enjoying the (relative) straightforwardness of feeding all three hellcritters lately—till Darkness fell off the cliff.** Fiona (this was before she tried to kill me) said that there should be some way to pool the appetites and food attitudes of my bonkers three and then redistribute the result more evenly. Yes. Although the hellterror could eat for England. WHAT IS IT? NO, NEVER MIND, I DON’T CARE, JUST HOLD IT THERE AND I’LL EAT IT. Pavlova’s appetite, bottled, and then judiciously sprinkled over entire kennels full of anorexic sighthounds, would have them all eating their heads off, and she would still be ingesting your All Stars if you don’t walk fast enough.
Anyway. We left finally in enough time to make it to another YARN STORE***.
It was on the way home from this escapade† that Fiona turned the wrong way down a one-way piece of major divided motorway and we saw a flotilla of cars bearing down on us at 70 mph.
In her defense, it’s a very confusing section of road. I don’t know that particular bit, but it’s in an area where a lot of the old Roman roads have been inefficiently widened, or extra lanes and slip roads have been kind of bolted on without sufficient signage to explain how they’re supposed to be used. It still might have been the end of a beautiful friendship† but . . . Fiona was holding both tickets to tonight’s Steeleye Span concert and even if I’d wrested mine away from her we were still sitting next to each other so whatever. My hair has only turned grey. Not a big deal.
. . . This is now the second time today that Radio Three has played Vivaldi’s GLORIA. What is this, a conspiracy? Has the Muddles’ musical director bribed the BBC to play it as often as possible between now and the end of May in an attempt to make us do some involuntary homework?††† But with last night’s choir practise rather dreadfully fresh in my mind‡ it was very interesting listening to some professional singers who aren’t off the top of the chart super-accomplished, super-super-schooled and super-super-super gifted opera-singer types, but people with voices more like yours and mine and who merely know how to deploy them. Nobody is going to hire Peter Knight to sing Parsifal, but he gets his point across, you know?
Also it was just a brilliant show. It was a brilliant enough show that I’ve had something like six emails from Fiona since she got home suggesting a series of reasons that we go to another concert on this tour. . . .
* * *
* She was very embarrassed and contrite. But I’m not perfectly sure about the contrition. She might have been embarrassed that she missed. No, wait, I’m probably (relatively) safe till PEG III comes out. I’ve told you, haven’t I, that PEG II ends possibly even worse than PEG? Slightly depending on your definition of ‘worse’. But I think I can guarantee that it is not reader-friendly. And I can predict the hate mail. Sigh.
** I can’t wait for the hellterror to grow up so I can get her on the cereal-free kibble too. One of my recurring nightmares is the hellhounds getting into the puppy kibble. Mind you, if it weren’t that the puppy gets it they wouldn’t be the LEAST interested. But she does and they don’t, and it’s bad enough she exists. That she has Special Hellterror-only Food is just not okay.^ I’ve applied to Olivia and Southdowner about when I can put her on grown-up food—it seems to me she still has substantial growing to do but maybe the last burst happens slowly—the only cereal-free puppy food I know anything about is from the same line of rotblasted gold-standard kibble the hellhounds get ONCE a day because I can’t AFFORD it. The way the hellterror eats. . . .
^ Since I’d had no inkling of Darkness being out of my sight long enough to get into anything that could have caused the recent meltdown OF COURSE I wondered if it could have been puppy kibble, but I don’t think so. Also of the two of them Chaos is a lot more intent on snatching a mouthful. Darkness can’t quite bring himself to stoop to real interest—General All Encompassing Appalled Horror and Revulsion is his shtick+, of which pointed accusatory looks at bags of puppy kibble are merely one aspect of a unified tactical assault.
+ ALTHOUGH I had THREE HELLCRITTERS IN THE SAME BED . . . for about five minutes a few days ago. ALL THREE of them LYING DOWN. No, I didn’t get a photo. My gimlet eye was part of what was holding them there, and getting up to fetch the camera would have been counterproductive. In a big noisy way.
It would be nice if they could share some space during the day, but they will always be crated separately and probably not allowed to frolic together unsupervised—at least not if Pavlova keeps all her bits. The people at the pet shop have already started saying, oh, six months old? A small dog could come on heat any time now. SHUT UP, OKAY?
*** Having exchanged Christmas presents first. Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Fiona.^ Hers included a knitting bag that says ‘a day without knitting is like a day without chocolate’. Mine included an assortment of kitchen magnets, my favourite of which reads: I’d like to help you out. Which way did you come in? —Fiona knows me well, you think?
^ Or since Fiona has seen the hellterror. Hey, when did you trade in that sweet little thing for this RAGING MONSTER? —It’s true, Pav is getting to be quite an armful when she’s in frenzy mode. It still hasn’t occurred to her that one of these days I’m not going to be able to pick her up. Remind me to have her crate off the kitchen table and on the FLOOR before that happens.
† I DIDN’T BUY ANYTHING. No, really. I kept saying to myself, Wall. Remember the wall. Remember the SEVERAL THOUSAND POUNDS that wall is going to cost. WALL. WALL. WALL.
Fiona doesn’t have paying for a wall in her immediate future, sooooo . . .
†† Especially if we were both dead.
††† I almost didn’t go to choir practise yesterday—this generic all-over germ that has recently settled in my stomach is not making my life a joy and my energy level sublime. But they were very glad to see me when I did go since there were ONLY THREE SOPRANOS. THREE? SOPRANOS? WTF? Cheez.
‡ Even though one of us was the director’s wife, who has a nice strong voice and reads music deplorably well, when there’s only three of you, you are each relentlessly audible.
. . . the scheduled programme continuing our discussion of life, art, performance and Good Enough* . . .
. . . to moan.
I’ve only—pretty much just this minute—got the copyedited SHADOWS back to my editor’s assistant’s (virtual) desk. It’s in the contract that your copyeditor will be from another planet and imperfectly drilled in earth mores.** This one was, in fact, better behaved than most. I thought I was getting off easily*** until . . .
Part of the problem is that trying to produce anything but the plainest of plain text on a computer makes my brain flurg into bread pudding. I can’t deal with electronic notes in the margins.† So my editor’s ever-patient assistant printed out a hard copy and sent me that. †† It took me a while to realise that those little faded grey streaky things are actually what significant house-style††† changes look like when electronic marginalia is forced onto paper.
My style is not house style. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH. . . .
I took Wolfgang in for his yearly legal-requirement MOT test on Monday.
He failed. He’s seventeen years old, it takes a little while for the parts to come in. I got him back today‡ . . . just in time to howl out to Ditherington this evening to return my sheet music from the concert I didn’t sing in with the Muddles, which if the librarian doesn’t return all of he can’t check out the music for the next concert . . . which, yes, I am going to try to sing in.
All of this would pass as fairly standard Life Stuff. However. Remember The Wall?
Somewhat against my better judgement—but it’s always easy to be wise in hindsight—I was talked into agreeing to the fellow who started work on Monday. He’s built dozens of brick-and-flint walls. Hundreds. Millions. He knows EVERYTHING about building brick-and-flint walls.
He poured in a lot of concrete on Monday and covered it up to set or jell or coagulate or whatever cement does. He was going to start again on Wednesday. I heard a lot of talking going on Wednesday morning, but then hellcritters and I set out on our double commute to get all of us down to the mews without benefit of Wolfgang.
That evening my neighbour rang me to say THE WALL BUILDER HAD QUIT. HE’D DONE ONE DAY AND HE’D QUIT.‡‡
My neighbour now wants to go with some other frelling friend of a friend of a colleague’s cousin’s small-appliance repairperson’s mongoose. I want to hire someone we know something about. She and I had nearly half an hour on the phone tonight, talking at total cross purposes, because she wants her way and I want mine. She’s already booked this joker to come talk to us tomorrow. He’s very nice! she said to me. You’ll like him! Whether I like him or not is beside the point.
I am very tired. . . . ‡‡‡
* * *
* I meant ‘good enough’ as a positive thing. I apply it positively. I make myself crazy—you may have noticed—I wind myself up, I force myself to fail by setting the bar too high.^ Good enough means I can achieve something and recognise it as achievement and not some flavour of failure. I personally feel it gives me room to have both good and bad days: on the good days it’s a springboard and on the bad days it’s a support.
My affection for this approach may partly be my age again. I remember when the concept of good enough hit the media and the self-help racks. I was raised to believe that anything less than A-plus, 100%, a gold medal and a Hollywood Walk of Fame star^^ was not good enough and that sackcloth and ashes and a life of social exile and sixth-rate chocolate were the only alternative. Good enough was not only a HUGE relief but it also meant you could try stuff without ruining your reputation (if any).
And possibly your grade-point average, depending on the school. This is one of the things that even at the age of seventeen or twenty and going or going back to college, and I was not a subtle thinker at seventeen or twenty, made me kind of nuts. Here you are attending full-time an Institution of Higher Learning and . . . you only dare take stuff you’re reasonably sure you can get good marks in, because education isn’t really the goal here, having a good-looking transcript is. This was in one of the eras when a liberal-arts degree was about as useful as a rubber pogo stick^^^ so you didn’t want to smash the poor flimsy thing up any further by taking risky classes. I’m not sure what quantum physics looked like in the early 1970s but I totally wouldn’t have dared. I did however weaken my poor sad BA by taking music, which I did not get wonderful grades in. Fortunately I subsequently found a way to escape my doom of sackcloth and ashes and the sixth-rate chocolate. . . . Social exile? Eh.
But Good Enough came along before I had permanently crippled myself by the weight of the chip on my shoulder.
^ Yo, I’m a Shetland pony, not an Irish hunter.
^^ If they can give stars for walking on the moon, I’m not too fussed about how they define ‘entertainment industry’.
^^^ Although I’m not sure even a proper steel and titanium pogo stick can be classified as useful
** It’s either that or the questions that have no connection with reality as you understand it are some kind of plant, seeking to discover if you have dangerous hidden personality traits that might lead you to go suddenly mad with a banana frappe at a crowded shopping mall.
*** Aside from an extreme case of Not Able to Focus on These Words any more
† My editor handles this just fine, and she’s nearly as old as I am. I tell myself she does a lot more of it than I do. She’s, you know, an editor.
†† I think I told you about the FedEx man not delivering it when there was no one home despite the fact that it said PAPER and MANUSCRIPT and ZERO VALUE and PLEASE LEAVE and NO SIGNATURE REQUIRED all over it.
††† Ie Chicago Manual of Style or whatever. Grammar and punctuation and all are somewhat mutable and publishing houses usually have a standard way of doing things, although the choices Teacosy Press makes may be somewhat different from those of Zombie Revolution Books. Aside from their contrasting approaches to acquisition.
‡ I am VERY GRATEFUL to the weather gods for giving us two non-sequential good days for walking. Hellhounds and I enjoyed the walk back from and out to Warm Upford very much. Something went right.^
^ But the question is, will there be four of us shepherding Wolfgang to and from his MOT next February? SHE’S BEEN HERE FOUR MONTHS. DON’T YOU THINK WE COULD ALL START TO GET ALONG?
‡‡ He’s decided he can’t do it for what he claimed on his estimate. Is this spectacular incompetence or a spectacularly crude attempt to jack the price up?
‡‡‡ And I haven’t even told you how copying seven pages of Zerlina’s Vedrai, carino^ took ten minutes because every page jammed. Some of them several times. Feeding pages in one at a time didn’t work. Fanning them between each page didn’t work. A whole new trayful didn’t work. I. HATE. MY. PRINTER.
^ If I like it, or anyway Nadia likes me singing it, I’ll buy the book. I worry about copyright even when the bloke’s been dead hundreds of years.