November 7, 2013

Very Short Wednesday



I really need a night off.*  So I thought I’d leave you with two Exciting Announcements and a few links.**

Peter’s IN THE PALACE OF THE KHANS has been nominated for the Carnegie long list:

And just in case you haven’t already bought your copy, here’s a reminder:

The ‘buy now’ takes you to but and Barnes and Noble have it as well.

And SHADOWS is coming out in the UK:

EBook 5 December

Paperback 2 January

The cover will look pretty much the same and the blurby stuff has been rewritten but it’s still about Maggie and some very peculiar shadows.  It should be available for pre-order by now.**

And if you wish to be encouraged, possibly inspired, but not to say hectored, pleeeeease read this: ***

* * *

* You know there are several people out there who have offered guest posts and then disappeared. . . . Just thought this might be worth mentioning.

** You’ll have to look the link up yourselves.  I don’t go near the Robin McKinley pages on amazon.

***  Or if you want to be reminded of my back catalogue you can read this:


The forum comments that didn’t get into Oh, Great . . .



Yesterday was a black hole, by the way*, but I’m better today.  I think.


Oh, yes, the “Are you published?” after you’ve said that’s what you do. Even after you say how many novels you’ve written (since occasionally that comes first) and you know perfectly well that no one (I think no one in history but I could be wrong) writes over 20 novels just for the heck of it. It’s work. It takes time. It takes time away from other things in life that a writer might want to do. I wrote one monster . . .when I wasn’t published, but chances are very, very high that if the thing had not been published, I would now be much better at knitting, singing, gardening, riding, and the house wouldn’t look like it does…and it would have been my only novel. . . . .(Of course I’d have gone mad. Madder than I am. But I don’t think I’d have sat down to write just about a book a year without deadlines and checks. Also, we’d now be very broke.)

Yes.  And that’s the other thing:  if you can’t earn a living by writing, then trust funds and/or wealthy spouses aside, you’re going to have to earn it some other way.  Now earning a living is a major time suck.  It’s just that if you’re doing it for love, you can manage to ignore the forty cents/shilling thruppenny per hour you’re ultimately getting paid, so long as you can keep eating.


Not being a blog follower when PEG came out, but still having visited the website enough to know that sequels were definitely not the hell goddess’ thing, I came to the end of the book . . . I tried my hardest to reason with myself . . . if this was where the story ended, then this is the story that needed to be told and I should look inside it to find the meaning, and I came up with all these beautiful ideas about friendship and perseverance and had completed the grief process up to acceptance… Then discovered the sequel tantalizers online.

::falls down laughing::  Sorry.  It’s friendly laughter.  Still . . . ::falls down laughing some more::

There certainly could be a story about how Sylvi and Ebon, Marked for Life by Their Tragic Separation, went on to do Great Things Alone.  That’s just not the one I’m writing.

Er, this Peg II crashing to a halt business is a little frightening. I’m glad it was past tense and I feel like I’ve heard positive things about it lately? Hmmm.

PEG II crashed and burned because I was refusing to recognise that it needed to be two books.  Two more books, making a [YAAAAAAARRRGGH] trilogy.  So the pacing, the story arc, the way everything fit together, was totally bodged and gleepy in the original PEG II.  This was scaring me quite a lot, as you may imagine.  I still don’t know whether it was just I had my head down so far I couldn’t see the forest for the trees or if I really was suffering a total mental block about the idea of a [twitch] trilogy [twitch].  Anyway.  By the time I finally figured it out, or let myself figure it out, I had the morale of club moss or a dead octopus or something. I could not face starting over from the beginning right away. Meanwhile—remember that benchmark about eating?—I had to keep eating.  So I wrote SHADOWS.

I admit PEG II and I are still not the best of friends.  There’s an awful lot of I Have Been Here Before, But Not in a Good Way.  But we’re getting there.


I really like the family dynamics in your work- I get rather sick and tired of lowly orphan/foundling hero/heroines- is that just fantasy writer quick hand of being able to send them off questing without too many obstacles??? I think I’m going to do a short story on the peeved mother who gets left behind on the farm who suddenly has to do all the chores and swears at that mysterious old stranger who has gotten little Timmy all excited about saving the world.

Thank you.  Yes.  I agree.  Orphans are fine, but there are a lot of families out there.**  And families are interesting.  I’ve been thinking about that story about the left-behind mum too.  And the other three children, the herd of goats and the ill-tempered pony.   And the cabbages.  And the mortgage payments.  Feel free to write it first.  All good stories can be retold indefinitely.

As an avid fantasy reader one thing that bugs me IS sequels that are done just for sequels sake. Singletons are lovely.

Singletons are different.  They feel different, they read differently, they hold together differently.  It’s not just that they’re perforce shorter, although that’s the obvious thing.  It would be a gigantic pity if The Serial Mind totally took over.  But I want to put in a word of defense of writers writing less-than-great sequels.  Some of them . . . are just writing less-than-great sequels.  It happens.  But some of them have been told that either they’re writing a series or that there’s a rumour that Wal-Mart is hiring.  Remember the need to keep eating.  I’m lucky:  I’ve been around a long time as a writer of singletons and most people are mostly used to it.  I’ve been haunted by sequels all my working life but when I wrote SWORD and HERO while series were desirable they weren’t yet a stick that your public and your publisher beat you with.***

…. I think I’ll stick to quilt pattern designs. Hmmm. A pegasus would look great.

A pegasus would look great.  But if it’s a McKinley pegasus remember they are NOT horses with wings.


Thank you for the glimpses into your mind and life that you provide in the blog. I’ve become a compulsive blog reader in the last year or two. It’s not only what you write but the way you write that draws me irresistibly. Thank you! 

You’re very welcome and thank you.  And I want to say out here on the blog that generally speaking I try not to copy and paste the really nice compliments because it makes me look like such a prat.  But I read them with ENORMOUS PLEASURE.  Just sayin’.


We shall make t-shirts that say “FRELL YOUR FRELLING SEQUEL” and wear them around.

I’m beginning to think I should officially look into the t-shirt thing as an author who needs to keep eating while she [re]writes her next [frelling] novel.  There’s also the footnote t-shirt.  Maybe there should be a PEGASI ARE NOT HORSES WITH WINGS t-shirt too.


What I love is books that continue around the edges of them. They are so much more ‘real’ than books where the author finishes everything off.

YES.  EXACTLY.  As a reader I way prefer books where it’s not all tied up with a big shiny ribbon at the end.  The big-shiny-ribbon conclusion tends to kill it dead, for me, and send retroactive gangrenous ripples back through the book that I had perhaps been enjoying—or at least successfully suspending my disbelief for—till then.


. . . I sometimes approach sequels with an attitude of “oh, so these poor characters — don’t they just get to live, well, not happily-ever-after necessarily, but out of the spotlight maybe? With no more than what the rest of us typically have to deal with, at least?” Whereas if they’ve landed in a sequel again it’s because something Very Exciting has happened.

Snork.  As a fairly dedicated stay-at-home myself†, who relishes her hot baths, pillows and blankets, and mains-electric reading lights,  as well as a writer (mostly) of singletons, I like your attitude.


. . . why, a good 60% of the time is the next sentence out of someone’s mouth Oh, are you published?

AND this one…

Oh, I’ve always wanted to write – everyone tells me I should write a book about (blah blah blah) …

 SOOOOO, my question is always: Do you like to read? To which, invariably, the reply from alleged aspiring writer is: ohhhh noooo – I hate to read!

‘Invariably’?  You poor thing.  You need to find a better class of pub/gym/chat room/alternate reality to hang out in.  The aspirers who talk to me usually do love to read—and seem to think this means they’ll be natural writers.  Cough.  Cough.  And it’s a beginning, of course—it’s even a good beginning, being a reader:  it’s just not enough.††

* * *

* What a good thing it was already a Saturday!  Or I might have been forced to hang a KES ep out of order!

** Harry has a brother!  Okay, she’s an orphan, but she has a BROTHER!  Also, I was younger then, and it was harder to keep account of too many important characters.  Trying to hold everyone straight in HERO was a steep learning curve.  If someone had told me then I was on track to write a book with PEG’s cast of characters I might be a manager of graveyard-shift supermarket shelf restockers by now.^

^ This is the Mysterious Disappearing Footnote from the other night, for anyone who was confused by the forum exchange about it.

*** There’s a similar sort of defense to be made about orphan protagonists.  I’m sure there are some out there that were created orphans for no better reason than that the author wanted to get on with the story . . . but that’s not actually a bad reason either.  What starts to get on my nerves is if there’s a huge doodah about the protagonist’s orphaned or otherwise tragedified state when it isn’t, as I-the-cranky-reader sees it, earned.

† Bell ringing is VERY EXCITING!  I rang a HARVEST FESTIVAL today!

†† And the awful truth is that there are a few good writers out there who are not great readers.  I Will Name No Names, but I know a few of them.  Arrrrgh.  It’s like the comforting truth that it takes time to write really well.  No.  Wrong.  It takes some of us a very long time to write anything worth reading.  Not all of us.  Arrrrrgh.  On the whole I’m willing to leave the non-readers in peace because I pity them for what they’re missing.  THE FAST WRITERS I WANT SHIPPED TO ANOTHER GALAXY.  NOW.




I seem to be very tired.*  And I cancelled my voice lesson because I have that half-laryngitis when you croak like a frog except when your voice disappears entirely for a word or two.**  I didn’t even go ringing tonight.  I must be ill.  Well, yes.  But the main thing is that SHADOWS has taken one of those semi-predictable lurches on the conveyor-belt of the publishing process when it, I don’t know, gets caught in the gap between Conveyor Belt #1 and Conveyor Belt #2 or the Conveyor Belt Technician missed her grab or something, and suddenly THINGS ARE HAPPENING.


Since I didn’t have a singing lesson to go to and since staying at home brooding about THINGS HAPPENING would probably only make my head explode and because a little gentle distraction is often a good way to make the brain produce useful suggestions rather than bloodshot gibberish, Wolfgang and I went off to buy compost*** and to check out the pet warehouse for a car harness for the hellterror.†  And while I was there I cruised the food since I now have a dog that eats††, although I was particularly looking at the snacky, treaty, bribey type things and . . . WTF, you dog-food industry, and you dog owners supporting the dog-food industry, WHY do so many treats have SUGAR or other sweeteners in them??  Yes.  I read labels.  I know it’s impossible to keep your kid off sweets once he/she gets old enough to hang out with his/her friends, but your DOG?  Your dog is under YOUR control.  It doesn’t have much opportunity to develop non-standard bad habits, like a sweet tooth, unless you let it.  Frelling frelling frell frell frell.  Well.  We’re still good with the plaited fish skin and the venison jerky.


My mentor/trainer of blessed memory used to think I was a TOTAL wuss and despaired of me ever training anything because I wouldn’t tuck dried liver (or some other dog appropriate treat) into the corner of my mouth and either spit it directly at the dog or at least eliminate several seconds of reaching-into-pocket-getting-treat. An advantage of having the treats in your mouth is that the dogs will REALLY REALLY look at you since food occasionally falls from your face.

I realise this is supposed to be disgusting and several other people on the forum have responded as such but . . . this makes me laugh and laugh.  Yes, that would certainly make the hellterror look at me.†††  No, the disgustingness doesn’t bother me all that much, but the HYGIENE does.  Most dog food has FOR ANIMAL USE ONLY stamped all over it, dogs are perfectly happy eating . . . well, never mind . . . and in catering to this floor-licking species I doubt that there’s a lot of exacting enforcement of sanitation in the average dog food factory.  And you’re supposed to put this stuff in YOUR mouth?  What is stopping YOUR saliva from saying, oh, hey, LIVER, and briskly attacking it in a digestive sort of way?  —Aside from the drool factor.  Not that your hellterror is going to care in the least about being spat on, at least if it’s liver flavoured spit . . . sorry.  I can see my faithful readers deleting the blog addy in frenzied numbers . . . or frenziedly, in numbers . . . whatever.  And I’m allergic to venison, and Pav is slightly more partial to dried venison than she is to ANYTHING I allow her to find edible, which is approximately everything I don’t take away from her before she swallows it.

Speaking of treats however has anyone tried dried sweet potato?  Sounded like a great idea.  But in practise, at the point that it gets really really really gooey, it starts sticking to the roof of your hellterror’s mouth.  We had a supernaturally delightful half hour a day or two ago with her in my lap so I could claw the blasted sweet potato OFF the roof of her mouth again every thirty seconds or so.  She didn’t want to give it up, mind, and it seemed unfair to take it away from her, when she was clearly having such a good time, including all this jolly interaction with the hellgoddess.  Ew.  I think desiccated liver would be preferable.

I still haven’t found an answer to THINGS HAPPENING.  And I think I’m too tired‡ to try to figure out the car harness tonight.

* * *

* Also, never mind Margaret Thatcher.  Annette Funicello died.^

One of the things I find interesting is that she kept the Funicello.  Did no one ever lean on her to change it to Fulham or Fulbright?  This is the era when Margarita Carmen Cansino became Rita Hayworth and Bernard Schwartz Tony Curtis.^^

^ And you all know Roger Ebert died?  Nooooooo.  I haven’t been keeping up with this—the main thing is he’s dead, and we don’t get him back+—but hadn’t he written that long, funny, poignant, typically-Roger essay about his ‘leave of presence’ literally a day before he died?  How does that work?

+ Although this is a situation where Christianity does offer a Band-Aid.  I can think of him getting his face back and being able to talk to people again.

^^ Although Marion Morrison may have changed his for other reasons than ethnicity.

** Sometimes this is a blessing, depending on the word.

*** I have roses to plant.  Fancy.

† She only still fits in her travelling crate because she thinks she does, rather the way she still fits on my lap.  Although she’s delighted to get in the crate^ because there is (almost) always FOOOOOOOD in the back of it, but some day she’s going to stretch injudiciously and the seams are going to pop, like the Incredible Hulk emerging from Bruce Banner^^.  But a bigger crate won’t fit on the back seat next to the hellhounds, even if the three of them got on famously there is NO room even for an undersized Yorkie in the hellhound box, and I have a strange aversion to filling the ENTIRE CAR with canine containment units, since the new bigger hellterror crate would have to go in the boot.

^ Which just by the way is a total piece of crap and I will be GLAD to find a way to dispense with its services.  It’s one of these where there are pegs that fit into holes which hold the door grate in place, and there are teeny-tiny handles that you open or close so you can open or close the door.  THE FRELLING PEGS ARE TOO FRELLING SHORT SO THE DOOR IS ALWAYS FALLING OUT.  Why the hellterror has not figured this out and made my life a misery/forced me to bungie-cord the door to keep her in I have no idea, except possibly that she is fond of the crate because of fooooood thing and as long as she stays in this Place of Snacks there might be more.

^^ And speaking of things I don’t keep up with, what does happen about clothing when Banner hulks out?  Does Brucie wear spandex under everything, just in case?

†† Sigh.  Hellhound eating is a major issue—again—at present, and Pav is proving the perfect Sucker Up of Remains.  Nothing edible goes to waste with a hellterror available.

††† And the hellhounds look away.

‡ I also had a long conversation with Theodora and her daughter about the wall, and I had Pav with me, in their beautiful, tidy sitting room with the fragile objets d’art scattered around.  Since she’s much better about dangling than she is about sitting still when she has her feet on the floor, I had her tucked under an arm.  Under one arm, over my hip, and holding her rear feet with my other hand behind my back, since my coat didn’t have pockets in the right places for her to put her feet in.  She followed the conversation with great attention and courtesy—I think some of why she’s so good at dangling is she likes being taller.  At ankle level EVERYTHING IS GOING ON WAY OVER HER HEAD—but I’m not sure my right arm will recover.  I’m afraid to weigh her again, I might lose my nerve.

A little more blog comment catch up



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.

Skating librarian

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:

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.

Chilly Singing


I am so cold.  I am SO TIRED of being so cold.  I’m at the mews, positively bent over an electric fire—which I have propped up on a stack of knitting books to get the heat source nearer—and I have been for the last hour . . . and I’m still cold.  I’m still bringing my geraniums indoors every night, so it’s cold anyway, but Muddles practise for the next concert started tonight* and . . . what is it about little old country churches?  And are little old country churches as gelid on the continent as they are here?  Or in the Yukon?  Or Siberia?  Some of us were huddling around one of the so-called radiators during the break, nursing our cups of hot tea and pretending the radiator was actually radiating anything, like heat, and musing about our options.  How much higher a subscription rate would our members bear for the sake of better practise space?**  We could barely get the words through our chattering teeth.  One woman suggested we look forward to summer.  Then it turns clammy, I said.  Walk into St Frideswide on a hot summer day and it’s like being slapped in the face with a wet fish.***  The woman I walked out with later said that her throat is usually sore by the end of practise, and that she needed to sing at home more.  That’s not practise, I said, that’s the cold.  I was feeling bitter and freaked out however after Galen, as he declared practise over for the evening, said that he felt that the Gloria was too easy and we needed an extra challenge between now and the end of May.  WHAT?  I went up to him on the way out and said that this might come as a shock to him but not all of us had ever sung Vivaldi’s famous Gloria before, and he looked at me as if I’d just offered him a tuba when he’d asked for a soprano, pulled himself together with an obvious effort and said airily, oh yes, I know.

On the other hand the Wall Man† has showed up several days in a row.  He even seems to be building a wall.  But I was out with Pav while he was wielding his trowel—he spends as much time hauling bags of sand and making his cement-mixer go ta-pocketa-pocketa as he does slapping bricks together—and we bonded over being dog owners and how the rest of the non-crittered world thinks we’re barmy.  So I’ve decided he was clearly the right choice.  So long as the wall doesn’t fall down.  Again.

* * *

* We are singing the Vivaldi Gloria, which is, of course, a transcendently gorgeous—one might almost say glorious—piece of music, I love it to pieces, and I’m thrilled to have the excuse to be learning it.  But . . . another local choir, with far greater pretensions to fabulousness than we have, as well as a lot more local profile, are also doing it this spring.  I even pointed this out and the response was a casual, yeah, rotten luck, isn’t it?  —Um.  Do we have a death wish or something?  The main comment about the latest concert I wasn’t in^ was that it was poorly attended.  Given our expectations about audience numbers this is pretty dire.  Were there more choir members than audience?  Did the audience consist of the caretaker and the caretaker’s dog?  And now we’re going to put on something that a better local choir did only a few weeks before us, and will have done so so inspirationally rivetingly that everyone in the audience went home and pulled out their Vivaldi Gloria CD and has been playing it nonstop ever since, and will have no desire to hear a less good small local extremely amateur choir butch—I mean, perform it somewhat inadequately, especially in comparison to recent relistening of John Eliot Gardiner and Neville Marriner and Riccardo Muti and their choirs—?  Reality check.

I think we need a new approach to marketing and public relations.  I wonder if we’ve tried kidnapping?  Or a programme of Marty Robbins’ Greatest Hits?

^  I didn’t go to the opera either.  I was at home with frelling SHADOWS.  How many ways can you lose?


Proofreading and errors —

Yes. *weeps* Yes.

I have a feeling [publisher] is trying to get everyone there moved over to electronic copyedits. Before, I’d been doing what you’ve been forced to move to — copyedits done in track changes, then printed out, which meant some of the changes were super confusing and hard to see. I mean, I think I’d still go over the [copyedited manuscript] three or four times, because I’m like that, but the invisible changes made it really important. And now I’ve been hearing others have been getting their copyedits through the emails. . . . Do not want. I will make sadfaces to get my paper with their invisible marks, if I must.

You comfort me.  I was expecting your generation of writers—do you compose straight onto a computer?  Do you ever, or have you ever, started with, you know, a piece of paper and a pen or pencil?—to have the electronic/virtual/no-hard-copy editing options totally sussed, and to look at people like me+ pityingly and a little impatiently.  I don’t even understand what track changes are.  Except that they are a ratbag.  And if it’s general that they’re confusing and hard to see, if it’s not just me and some random gremlin in my editor’s assistant’s printer, why don’t we go back to yellow stickies and red pencils and automatic hard copy?++

+ Who still have my beloved IBM Selectric I typewriter in the attic, even though I haven’t been able to get parts for her in about eighteen years.

++ You know it’s almost impossible to get red pencils any more?  You have to find an art department that sells coloured pencils individually, and raid the red.

** One of them suggested we do it by voluntary donation.  Um.  I’m not willing to pay more while some other joker who doesn’t mind the chilblains chooses not to . . . and still gets the better space on my money.  Let’s hope this isn’t the draft legislation that is put to the vote.

*** I used to ring their bells.  You could get heatstroke in the bell chamber, no problem.  Of course this does require a summer that includes sunlight and warmth, neither of which were in evidence last year.

† Who is clearly made of strong, cold-resistant stuff

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