Back in the Saddle

It’s been weighing on me that I’ve fallen silent here. Most of the stuff I have to say about writing, I’ve been saying at the Moody Muses on Wednesdays. And I haven’t really had much to say otherwise. Life is life, deeply interesting to me but unlikely to be as interesting to anyone else.

But from time to time, I do like to talk about stuff. And I thought I might take a leaf out of my friend Corrina Lawson’s book, and write about stuff other than writing. More

Down the Rabbit Hole

Holy moly, I didn’t realize until tonight that it’s been nearly two weeks since my last post. Gah! The main reason for my disappearing act is that I’ve been deep, deep, deep in my story world — I’m not sure how many words I’ve written because I’m not tracking it any more, but I know it’s been a lot. The ms. is 209 pages and nearly 64k words long. Most of what I’ve written in the last month is going to need overhauling, but I’m learning I’m okay with that. I’m starting to think I might be the kind of writer who needs to figure out her story by writing it. Who knew?

I’ve also been baking — the madness continues. I’ve made brownies and pancakes from scratch, (in the usually-make-it-from-mix category), and I’ve made lemon-cornmeal cookies and cornbread (in the revisiting-old-favorites category), and I’ve made orange-cranberry scones in (the baking-something-for-the-first-time category). So far, nothing’s been bad, and I’ve had friends willing and able to help me eat everything.

Of course I’ve been reading, too. Asking if I read is like asking if I breathe. I’ll try to post my thoughts on what I’ve read this weekend.

Attacks of Creativity

I was just at one of my favorite blogs — Already Pretty — and it struck me how into playing with clothes I’ve been lately. I’m mixing and matching pieces from my wardrobe in ways I haven’t before, and I’m very aware of accessories, thinking about how this necklace will change the look of that ensemble.

I’ve also been subject to attacks of baking: cookies, scones, quick breads. I don’t know where that’s coming from, but I’ve baked and baked and baked in the last couple of weeks. I went food shopping this afternoon, and came thisclose to buying pie crust. Fortunately for my weight management efforts, I’ve been able to give away most of what I’ve made.

What I realized a few minutes ago is that all of this is about creativity. I’m expressing myself with all of this. The odd thing is that I still find it surprising that I’d be creative. Apparently, I don’t think of myself as being a creative person, despite over 13 years of writing seriously.

When will that sink in, o universe? When will I finally see creativity when I look at myself?

Bleakness

In his review of the new Coen brothers’ movie, “A Serious Man,” Ty Burr of the the Boston Globe writes, “The final moments of “A Serious Man’’ are pitiless and breathtaking, and they offer no comfort at all. In a culture addicted to giving us the good news, such profound comic bleakness feels cleansing and true.” When I read it, I thought, “Not happening.” As in, me going to see that movie is not happening.

There’s a part of me that wonders what’s up with people who want to see something pitiless, bereft of comfort, bleak. How can they take pleasure in that? How can they go there, and not stay…or sink deeper into the darkness? I’ve talked about this before, the way I already know the world is A Very Bad, Very Dark, Not Particularly Fair Place and, thanks, but I don’t need that reflected in my “art.” Frankly, I’m afraid of pitilessness and bleakness, because they suck the optimism and hope right out of me. Both are pretty fragile, and I need to protect them.

So, no bleak, nihilistic, life-sucks-and-then-you-die art for me. If that makes me a giant weenie, then I embrace my weenie-dom.

Learning Something New

My birthday is coming up and every time I think about it, I’m shocked by which one it is. I don’t feel as if I could possibly have been alive that long. Sure, I have a few more aches and pains than I used to, but nothing major, nothing that stops me doing the things I want to do. (My knees won’t let me run, but I don’t really want to, so that doesn’t count.)

I think one of the reasons I don’t feel my age is that I keep learning new things. Learning is such a part of being young that continuing it keeps you feeling young. Or at least that’s my theory. (I believe there’s some evidence that continuing to challenge yourself mentally might stave off dementia, but don’t quote me on that.)

Some of what I learn comes from books — actually, it’s fair to say most of it comes from books; it’s one of the reasons I love to read — but some of it comes from observation and insight. One thing I learned this week is that I don’t like books that open with the protagonist in terrible jeopardy. Trouble, yes; there’s a reason writers are told to start where the trouble starts. But not terrible jeopardy.

I’m not sure why I don’t like it. It might be that I expect things to get worse, and if we’re already at really bad, well, then horrible and depressing seems to be the only place we can go. Oddly enough, I realized this when opening a romance, a genre that promises a happy ending. Even with that safety net, I didn’t want to go through the terrible darkness I was sure filled the middle of the book.

It might also be that the emotional demand a gripping and dark story would make on me scared me off. I have a lot on my emotional plate, as I try to balance any number of things, and it’s possible I realized I don’t have the emotional energy for a story like that.

Whatever the reason, whatever the result, it’s still something I learned this week.

Auntie Ranty

I was reading Laurie Graham’s blog the other day and was struck by how strong her opinions are, or at least how strongly she states them. I sometimes think I’m dull as dishwater because I don’t get ranty in public very often (and when I do, it’s in real life, not online, where what you did really does live forever). But even as I think that, and wonder if I should be more opinionated online, I realize it’s not who I am. I get ranty when I’m annoyed and ranty-ness releases the annoyance. As soon as I’m done barking about something, I’m usually over it, and I don’t want to revisit it. So, no online barking for me.

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I like watching my mind do strange stuff, stuff that reminds me that it’s a wild world up here between my ears. More

The Old Shiny

Bless the web: 10 days ago, I found instructions for fixing the problem with my Sansa e200’s scrollwheel. Apparently, the crazy, uncontrollable rolling-any-old-way-but-the-way-you-want thing, that was making me nuts, isn’t unusual. All I had to do was take the player completely apart, and clean underneath the scrollwheel. Which sounds a little nutty — what if I broke it past repair? — but the way I saw it, I couldn’t use the player as it was, anyway, so there was no risk.

There was a little hiccup when I was putting it back together — I put a gear back in upside down — but that was quickly corrected.

When I was done, the scrollwheel worked perfectly. And the sound! Oh my… Crisp and warm, with layers of details…

[Happy sigh.]

As the week went on after the repair, I slowly realized I don’t want a new mp3 player. I have the mp3 player I want. Who needs a new shiny, when one has a wonderful old shiny already in hand?

Incommunicado

Once a month, I have a stretch where I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want to e-mail anyone. I don’t want to do anything that involves other people. It’s always right around the 25th of the month (which makes me happier than ever that I spend Christmas with the sisters and the beloved, because they all completely get being incommunicado).

You can kind of see where I’m going here.

It’s not actually that I don’t want to talk to anyone. It’s more that I don’t have anything to say.

Yet I talk.

Today’s amusement: I went to the library today, fully intending to return five books and pick up the one book I had on hold. I was going to reduce the numbers of books I had out. For some reason, I had the idea this would make me happy.

And then I wandered into the stacks.

And found five books I wanted.

Net result: I have more books out today than I did yesterday. Not the plan.

But that’s okay. It’s books. There’s no such thing as “too many” of those.

Good Girl

I wrote a couple of hundred words right before I went to bed last night, and I wrote another 500 or so at work today (at lunch and in the ten minutes after the day ended while I waited to head off to catch my bus), so I’m making progress despite the efforts of my Demon. So I’m feeling good about that.

And I’m heading off to the gym in a few minutes. It’s a long story, but the bottom line is, I can’t manage to get to the gym at 5:30 AM unless I’m meeting my trainer, so I missed a day in my sequence and I want to make it up. Right now is the only time I have. So off I go. I feel good about that too.

The Many Faces of Unstuck

I wrote 500 words last night, and these ones work. So it’s confirmed: I’m no longer stuck. Happy day.

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For the past few months, I’ve been extremely reluctant to spend money, deciding that I don’t want or need whatever it is that’s caught my eye. I’ve thought it’s had to do with the economy but now I suspect it’s about something else. Somewhere along the line, I read or heard something to the effect that we don’t own our possessions, our possessions own us. I think that’s part of what’s making me reluctant to buy things: I don’t want to be owned by more stuff.

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Connected to that: I have an Excel spreadsheet that lists all the books I own and where I have them. Well, it did; I haven’t updated it in a while. So that’s something I’ve been puttering around with, and it’s leading me to weed out books I’ve had for years that I haven’t read and now think I’ll never read. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the books I don’t want, but at least I know I don’t want them. (It’s not that I think the books aren’t any good; they’re just not books I’m likely to read and/or enjoy.)

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