writing


I’ve been doing some clean-up work on my blog, trying to eliminate duplications and other messes that happened long ago when I transferred it from LJ to Dreamwidth. It’s never been a high-priority thing, but something I dip into when I’m in the mood to do something fairly mindless (and kidding myself it’s productive). (Or as a time waster instead of writing, but we won’t talk about that.)

I ran across an old post from June of 2011 which was just at the beginning of my caregiving for my mother when she was on peritoneal dialysis and still able to do most things for herself. That changed in September of that year when she had her stroke—but that’s not the point of this post. Apparently, in June I had just finished my last read through/clean up of my second completed novel, Blood Geek. I think maybe I had the idea of self-publishing. That idea was overtaken by my mother’s illness and never came about. It’s just as well, I suppose. It was a decent effort, but not my best work.

But that’s not the point of this post, either. In the above-referenced post I was talking about the strange parallel of writing a novel (almost twenty years prior at that point) about a woman whose early life had been constrained by caring for her sick mother. She was just about to break free and live life for herself. In 2011 I was rather amazed by the “haunting echo, now that I am helping to care for my own mother, that keeps bouncing through the chambers of my heart. It’s a little disturbing. I knew more than I thought I knew back then.” But in June of 2011 I had no idea, really, of what was to come, how consuming caregiving would be, how it would leave no room for anything but working and caring, how it squeezed out all time for anything like creativity.

But again, that’s not the point of this post. This is, this paragraph I came across:

And now I am in a different phase of my life. I have no vision for what comes next. I can’t see that far beyond the day-to-day. I do know that when I get back to writing something new again, I don’t want it to echo that day-to-day in the slightest. Which is not to say I might not use some of these characters again—in fact, I fully intend to. But they will be engaged in some other enterprise, something that blows the doors open to other worlds with no fences.

What blows the doors off my mind on this day, in 2020, is that I am writing new things again, and the new novel I’m writing does involve some of the same characters—in a whole new enterprise, a whole new process of growth and transformation. (And I am going through that transformation with them.) I haven’t really thought about these characters much in the last nine years, although one of them, Carmina, kept popping up now and then to insist she had a story I really needed to tell. I poked at her story over the years, but beyond the first two chapters, nothing gelled. I didn’t start last year thinking she will be the one. I started last year just trying to write something, anything. And then I wrote a completely different novel in a completely different universe. Also one I’d used before, but nothing to do with these characters.

Yet here I am. Happy and more than a little surprised that this fall Carmina’s story finally took off.

And that’s why I say that no story I have ever committed to paper or electrons (or, hell, even the ones that knock around in my head that I haven’t bothered to do that with) is every truly dead—until I am. Or until my brain blows out. Even my first completed novel, which if I have anything to say about it will never see the light of day, has produced nuggets that I have mined and used in later books. Like the clerk in the dead parrot sketch of Monty Python fame keeps insisting, these stories are not dead. Even if I’m not aware of them on a conscious level, they’re still in there. Resting.

Random quote of the day:

“Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.”

—Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”

—Saul Bellow, quoted in The #1 New York Times Bestseller by John Bear

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

I was awakened early this morning by my Nest smoke detector (a Google product) malfunctioning. No smoke, no fire, but after I’d turned the damned thing off three times it would no longer allow me to do that. The firemen came to confirm no fire, no smoke, and physically disabled the alarm to shut it the f*** up. They suggested that maybe the batteries were no good, although they’d been changed about 4 months ago when the technician came out to inspect things. I had turned the heat on about an hour before this happened, but it wasn’t the first time I’d used it this fall.

This is also not the first time this has happened, although last time was not nearly as traumatic. That time (about a year ago?) it woke me up at 1:30 a.m. shouting, “ATTENTION!!! THERE’S SMOKE IN THE LIVING ROOM!!! THE ALARM MAY GO OFF!!!”

I jumped out of bed and searched frantically for smoke but found none. The alarm never did go off and reset itself. About 20 minutes later I checked the app and it said something like, “Smoke has dissipated.” I went back to bed but didn’t get back to sleep very soon. The next day I had the company come out and inspect the furnace and alarm system but they could find nothing wrong.

I occasionally will smell smoke from the neighbors’ firepit in my house, but they would hardly have been using it at 1:30 on a weeknight, nor (I suspect) early this morning. There were no fires burning in the area on that occasion, either, although I have smelled them in my house at times (and there’s a fire about 20 miles from here which started yesterday). Ironically, the system has never gone off when I have smelled this smoke. But after that first time when the furnace people found nothing, I called the local fire department’s non-emergency number and explained what happened and asked if they could suggest a next step. They said they could come out when they had a lull period and inspect the house, which they did. They used these detectors that see through walls to check for hot wiring that might cause problems, as well as scanning all the appliances, and found nothing.

I’ve been reading online about problems with Nest. Apparently, what happened to me is not unknown. Sometimes the latest high tech is <i>not</i> a good thing. I’m considering having the whole damned thing yanked out. Of course this would happen when my cash flow ain’t great. That seems to be one of the rules for appliances of all kinds.

Typically, when I complained about this on Twitter, I was contacted shortly thereafter by Made By Google (@madebygoogle) offering help and asking me if I had a 1st generation product (which they’ve admitted elsewhere has problems). I do not have a 1st generation product. So. Make of that what you will.

First World problems, but frustrating nonetheless.

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I may not pause to look at your pics/video of your kids, but I will always pause to look at your pics/videos of your cats and dogs. I do not dislike kids, it’s just that I really like cats and dogs.

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Sometimes when I go through the house and realize I’ve left a whole bunch of lights on I say to myself, “What, are we made of money?” Early programming never dies.

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I have never been, and never will be, the kind of writer who writes 10k in a day. That’s probably partly due to me being a pantser, figuring things out as I go, stopping here and there to do spot research. What did workmen wear in the 1940s? What sodas were popular? I don’t think I’ve ever written 10k in one day.

But I’ve consistently ground out the words every day. An average for me would be between 500-750 words, two to three pages, laying that yellow brick road down every day, and thereby I have completed 7 novels, and working on an 8th. Now and then I may have an effervescent day of 1200 words, or 3k. I think I once did 7500 in one day, but those are rare and precious moments of flow. And I’m okay with that. Slow and steady also gets the job done. This week I passed the 10k mark on my new novel. Feels good.

I write until I don’t know what happens anymore, then I stop. Overnight, maybe in my dreams, the story continues and the next day when I come back to my manuscript, I do know what happens next and I go until it stops. That’s my magic, and I’m glad to have it back again.

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Sometimes I think it’s better to not understand things.

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I love how Jake Tapper characterizes Jordan: “the jacketless Jim Jordan who normally isn’t on this committee but was put onto it to be a bulldog.” That dog may hunt but he don’t never bring back the game.

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Jim Jordan reminds me of a guy who keeps a jar under his desk to urinate in.

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I like big rings and I cannot lie.

Nail polish: Blueprint by ILNP.com. I’d been wearing it for a couple of weeks when this picture was taken, so it was a little the worse for wear.

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In 1901, two English ladies—Miss Moberly and Miss Jourdain—experienced a timeslip while visiting Versailles, going back for an interlude to the time of Marie Antoinette. They detailed this story in a book called An Adventure. You can read about it here: http://xenophon.org.uk/adventure.html

If you click on the link, then click on “The Music of An Adventure” you can hear a transcription one of the ladies, Ms. Jourdain, a talented musician, made of a strain of music she heard while “there.” Not surprisingly, they received much ridicule from the male establishment of the time, but they clung to their accounts for the rest of their lives. There are inconsistencies in their stories, but other things they reported would have taken a great deal of research on their part to get right. So the account remains controversial even today.

Still, it’s a cranking great yarn. And I say, all cranking great yarns should be true, even if they aren’t.
*

The Getty Fire was still quite a ways from me but it got perilously close to the LA Basin. The LA Basin isn’t more important than the other areas that have burned but it’s densely packed. If the fires get into the Basin I don’t know how they’ll stop them. It’s something to worry about every time fire gets close to the really crowded areas. Fire departments are stretched so thin right now. They heroically got on top of the Getty fire this time, but we’re still burning, homes are still being lost.

California is a trend leader in many ways. But I would rather not be on the front lines of the devastation caused by global warming. Californians are sharing that with our brethren in hurricane, tornado, and typhoon country. But make no mistake: global warming is coming for us all.
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I changed my alarm sound from the annoying ding ding ding ding ding ding a-ding to the sound of a hooting owl echoing in a forest. It’s eerie and wondrous when it drops into the silence of my room.
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Someone was talking about animism the other day and it made me think of Ayahuasca, the visionary drug processed by the Quechua people of the Amazon. It’s an arduous process to bring forth the drug, involving many steps, and not at all intuitive. When a Westerner asked the shaman how his people learned to process it he said, “The spirit of the plant told us.”
*

Trust the road
no matter where it
takes you, how many
forks and crossroads.
Wherever it leads,
in any direction,
is the path you must follow.
*

Looks like the giant Tick fire was started by a guy who was living in junkyard like conditions and decided to cook his lunch outside on the barbecue. In Santana wind conditions. Florida had nothing to do with it.
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I finished the old compilation novel (Beneath a Hollow Moon) and put it in a trunk where it will get moldy or will come back out again and I can make it new. I’ve started another novel, one I’d written a couple of chapters on a long time ago. In fact, chapter one was the last Editor’s Choice I received from the Online Writing Workshop for SFF (OWW) before I left it. Carmina. It’s been doing a siren call to me for the last couple of months, and so far the writing’s been going well. Except for those two previously written chapters it’s completely new writing and that feels really good. Also, a completely different universe from the previous novel, and that also feels good. And the best part? I know the end but have no idea how I’ll get there! I’m stumbling around, but I feel like I’ve finally come home again.

I’ll forever be grateful for the things I learned from OWW, the community I was a part of, and the encouragement I received there. Invaluable.
*

It’s a process of letting go:
of youth,
resentments,
of those we love,
of seasons of
grief and joy.
Let them go, let them fly.
Let them find new homes,
or sink away into the earth,
away from my fading heart,
my lightening soul.
Away, now!
*

Random quote of the day:

“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life….This is the artist’s way of scribbling ‘Kilroy was here’ on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass.”

—William Faulkner, The Paris Review, Issue 12, Spring 1956

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

I can claim no service for myself, but my dad was a Marine for 30 years. He fought through the Pacific campaign in WW II and the Inchon Basin in Korea. Tough, bloody campaigns. He was one of the kindest, most thoughtful, and gentlest men I’ve ever known. That wasn’t necessarily the case when he was on duty. That was Business, and a different thing altogether. But we rarely saw that side of him, and never directed at us, only at fools.

I remember one time when my apartment was broken into and Mom and Dad came over to wait with me until the police arrived. When the LAPD showed up, Dad (who never forgot a face of anyone he served with) said to one of the cops, “You were once one of my Marines, weren’t you?” The cop acknowledged that Tom had been his gunney sergeant many years before. Mom, who only knew gentle Tom, said, “But I bet he was much nicer than those guys usually are.” The policeman looked a little embarrassed, but then he smiled and said, “M’am, in my experience, gunneys are never nice.” My dad laughed so hard.

But it proved a point. Being a badass when it’s required to get you through a tough situation is appropriate and will help keep you and those around you alive. But it doesn’t mean you have to carry that badassery with you everywhere you go or use it as an excuse to lash out. There was still room in Tom’s soul to be kind, thoughtful, and gentle.

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This reminds me so much of Temple Church which we visited in Cornwall. It was also built by the Templars. It’s not just the style of the church—which I understand was a pretty standard Templar construction (they built them all over), but the peaceful little green valley that it was built into. They chose their spots well.

Full URL: https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/temple/temple/index.html


Temple Church, Cornwall

I’m not a Christian, but this was a genuinely holy spot. There was peace that surpasseth all. Some churches are like that, usually in quiet, out of the way spots. Others are merely hollow shells.

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Don’t let anybody tell you any different: trolls exist in both sexes. From a female POV it may just seem like they’re all male, and maybe the preponderance are (I have no objective evidence to prove it one way or another), but trolls definitely swing both ways.

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I have good taste. I know because Pinterest is always telling me so.

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It’s rare when something lives up to its hype, but in the case of Fleabag, it absolutely does. A wonderful series, completely unique.

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This time of year I’m always so glad that I stopped following the Dodgers years ago.

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D*mino’s: Pizza that tastes like it was made really, really fast.

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Donald Trump apparently believes that betraying our Kurdish allies and unleashing ISIS on the Middle East again will distract people from his impeachment. His usual bait-and-switch but it may backfire on him badly. Unfortunately, it also is going to kill a lot of innocent people.

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Crone

I thought I understood
but it was yet
another posture,
something not
comprehended
until skin ripples
on bones
and toes curl
walking the walk.

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From “Demolition Man,” The New Yorker, Dec. 24 & 31, 2007:

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I think everybody goes through a clueless twat phase in their life. Some of us do it in our teens and twenties, some much later in life, but in the old days, the cluelessness was viewed by a handful of people who just shook their heads in disbelief and moved on. With the advent of the internet and so many people longing to be “influencers,” that clueless is often on display for the whole world to see and has the potential of haunting you for the rest of your life.

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I think Trump’s Syria move may be an attempt to have a safe haven in Turkey when he flees the U.S. legal system. A back-up plan to Russia.

Random quote of the day:

“When you can’t write, you feel you’ve been banished from yourself.”

—Harold Pinter, acceptance speech for the Shakespeare Prize, 1970

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

I would say to my pagan friends the same thing I would say to my friends of any religion: beware thinking your way is the One True Faith. There are many paths back to the Source, but judgement and rigidity are not amongst them.
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I’d start calling him President Cthulhu but that’s an insult to Cthulhu.
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You know, I’ve supported Nancy Pelosi all this time but mostly kept quiet because I didn’t want to fight with people, often people I liked and admired. I’m a little ashamed of that, but oh well. I knew, you see, that Pelosi is one of the canniest and most experienced politicians in Washington and I knew she was holding fire for a good reason. Last week that reason became eminently clear: she was waiting for a smoking gun. One that these cretins couldn’t wiggle out of, one that the general American public could readily understand. It may be argued that the Mueller report was a smoking gun, but even Mueller himself obfuscated and demurred so much that it wasn’t something that could be easily conveyed to the larger public. But everybody understands the kind of brutish and heavy-handed strong-arming Trump attempted with Ukraine. It was schoolyard bully stuff and illegal and immoral as hell. It’s enough to start changing minds–except for his rabid believers, of course. Trump said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and no one would hold him responsible. What he was too stupid or arrogant to realize was that when he did give Nancy Pelosi an easy-to-hold gun of her own, she would have no hesitation in pulling the trigger. Good work, Madame Speaker. I’m sorry I didn’t defend you.
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You know that overworked and ridiculous phrase in writing: “She (he) released a breath she didn’t know she was holding”? I’ve always loathed it in a work of fiction, but when the Ukraine news broke and with all the revelations that came out… I released a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
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I used this deck quite a lot at one point in my life. Can you tell?

Fortunately, the cards don’t look as disreputable as the box. And after literally decades of using this deck, I just discovered that I had two Knights of Swords. I’m not sure what that means. I would probably have never known if they both hadn’t come up in the same reading. Reversed. And yes, I guess the day of that reading had been about being, “indiscreet, extravagant, and foolish.” I’ve been through the entire deck now and there are no other duplications and no missing cards. But I guess I’d better pay attention to that Knight, hadn’t I?
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I was born in the last six hours of Virgo, just seven hours shy of the Autumn Equinox (West Coast time), so I have a hella amount of Libra in my chart. I was really feeling the effects of the new moon in Libra at the end of September. I tried to use that energy well. Balance and rectification. Throwing off the shackles of old bad habits that are holding me back.
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One of the best parts of living alone is that when I’m not feeling well I can sit around and groan and not worry about driving anyone crazy with my drama queen ways.
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I was watching one of those ghost shows on TV and the house owner was talking about how a ghost threw her cat across the kitchen. And there’s the cat sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor with its leg up cleaning its nether regions. He seemed very unconcerned in general. She took the ghost hunters into the bedroom to talk about what happened in there and here comes the cat to sprawl on the bed. “I ain’t afraid a no ghosts.” In fact, I kind of regard cats as a reverse ghost monitor. If they are there and not concerned they ain’t no ghost there.
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Every time I watch the science channel I wonder if the people who came up with the SciGo acronym realized how close it sounds to “psycho.”
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When the estimable Dr. Lucy Jones, eminent geologist, says that she fears climate change more than earthquakes one should really pay attention. I saw her state just that in a recent interview.
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I may have finished writing something that seemed very much like the denouement of my current novel. Only the coda left, and that’s already half written. But it’s been a couple of weeks now and I still haven’t finished it. I can’t help wondering if this resistance is a way of preventing myself from moving on. Or knowing that once I finish that coda, I’m done with this world for the foreseeable future. I can’t see writing any more Dos Lunas stories any time soon–and I’ve lived there on and off for so long (since 2000), I may be reluctant to let go.
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I’ve come to the conclusion that I like having mindless tasks to do, things that most people would never have the patience for. I suspect it’s a Virgo thing.
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Oh yeah, that probably explains a lot about the last few months. I forgot until just last week that I have summer SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Somehow I manage to forget that every freaking year.

Random quote of the day:

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

—Anne Rice, Foreword to The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and Other Stories by Franz Kafka

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

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