So Busy! (In a good way)

I didn’t realize until just now how long it’s been since I had something to say here. Yeesh. The interesting times in my personal life have become duller–thank goodness!–but I’m still scribbling quite a lot. I’ve written well over 5000 words since January 6, which is crazy-mad productive for me.

I think a change to my process is behind this new productivity. More


Among the Missing

I haven’t been around (except the occasional tweet) because of:

  • Scribbling: not a lot of words generated, but they’re being generated steadily;
  • Being at the Moody Muses. I post every Wednesday. Come visit all of us;
  • Interesting times in my personal life. Nothing I particularly want to talk about and it’s not a catastrophe or anything, but it is a time and energy drain, so less time and energy to talk.

Good books in the last week or so: A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book (I still haven’t figured out what I think of it); and Anna Katherine’s Salt and Silver, where any number of tricky technical issues — world-building, knowing where the story really begins, tone, etc. — were all beautifully handled.

I’m not sure what I’m reading right now. That personal issue makes me prone to grazing. Ah, well…


I don’t have much to say, except that I’m beyond jazzed that the NHL’s Winter Classic is being played at Fenway this year and it’s about to start.

These days I’m more of a baseball and football fan than a hockey fan, but in my early 20s, I dated a guy who started skating when he was four years old, so I learned to love the game. My father tried to teach me what icing and offsides were, but it took my boyfriend and never-ending Bruins games on TV.

When we broke up, I lost touch with the Bruins, but I still remember enough that I’m sure I’ll enjoy the game.


Currently reading: A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book. It’s diffuse and I’m not entirely sure where it’s going, but I’m finding it compelling nontheless.

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?

Random Book List

I thought it might be cool, every now and again, to post a list taken from my book inventory. I went to, a random integer generator, and generated two sets of random numbers. One was the number of books I was going list, something between 1 and 20; the other was a list corresponding with the line number in my book inventory spreadsheet. Today, I’m posting 7 books.

  • Way Out West by Blanche Marriott (Not yet read)
  • To Wed a Stranger by Edith Layton (one of my keepers; her death still makes me sad).
  • Blame It On Cupid by Jennifer Greene (Not yet read)
  • Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris (I love Kathleen Norris)
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein (a classic)
  • The Superior Person’s Second Book of Words by Peter  Bowler (Not yet read)
  • The Age of Voltaire by Will and Ariel Durant (I haven’t read everything, just dipped in from time to time)

Out of 1,293 books in my inventory, 533 are unread. It’s almost certainly a matter of time, mood and memory, as in remembering I have a given book, not aligning. I wonder how many of them I’ll read this year.

Hmmm… Maybe I should throw down the gauntlet to myself, and commit to reading at least 25 of my unread books in 2010.

Books and Other Happy Things

I went to the library today, fully intending to pick up the items I had on hold and then leave, leave without borrowing anything else, because I already have plenty of books to read.

You know what they say about best-laid plans? Yeah, that applies here.

The library’s great because it allows me to take risks, to borrow things I’m not sure of. The downside is the due dates; they pressure me. The dates on the new things are particularly demanding; I know I’m not going to renew, say, Her Fearful Symmetry, and I don’t think I’ll be able to read it before it’s due. And that’s just one example. The pressure to get those books read feeds my reading itchies; I can’t settle down to read Book A because I know I need to get Book B read. Maybe I need to start thinking of the borrowed books as possibilties, not obligations, as things I borrowed because I wanted to read them, not as things I have to read. Maybe I’ll be able to read more.

I should be able to read a lot next week — I’m on vacation. I usually take the week before Christmas off so I can get some shopping done. This year, I finished early, so the week is all mine. I should be able to get a good bit of writing done, too, but I’m really looking forward to wallowing with books. Even the thought of it seems blissful.


In other news, starting tomorrow, I’m posting on Wednesdays at the Moody Muses. I’ve been a fan of the Muses for ages, so I was hugely flattered to be asked to contribute. I’ll be posting reminders here, as time goes by; I hope you’ll visit (if you aren’t already).

The First World War

I read about a quarter of Sir Martin Gilbert’s The First World War before something very like boredom stopped me in my tracks. It’s certainly not Gilbert’s writing — he manages to wrangle a great deal of information into clarity without entirely sacrificing its complexity. The problem is the thing that made that particular war so awful: It was the same stuff, different day, for years. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, WWI is insanity in action. But reading the same stuff done over and over again is…boring.

I also think I quit reading because the pointless, criminal waste of all that life makes me sad.

And now I don’t know what I’m going to read. I have a bad case of the reading itchies.

Okay, Now I Get It…

I”m not sure where I’ve been. I’ve been somewhere, but where is a mystery. I haven’t been writing very much — 300 words is an amazingly good day — and I haven’t been reading much, or at least so it seems.

I think the idea that I’m not reading is driven by the fact that I’m returning so many library books unfinished. I start them, read for an hour, think, “Inh,” and put it in the bag to go back. Some of these books I reserved weeks, or even months, ago. It’s disappointing and disheartening to return them unread, after all that waiting and patience.

And it’s not the books. They’re good books. They’re just not what I want.

I think I ought to want them, since many of them get such excellent reviews (which is what makes me reserve them in the first place). I wonder what’s wrong with me that I don’t want to read demanding fiction. I beat myself up for my lowbrow tastes. (I beat myself up about everything; I’ve come to the conclusion that part of my psyche goes looking for reasons to beat me up, and it doesn’t actually matter what it is. I’m working on ignoring it.)

Then, today, I understood. I don’t want to get involved. I don’t want to read something that’s going to draw on a particular kind of emotional and mental energy. New-to-me fiction pulls from that exact energy source, and that’s why I’ve been resisting it .

I use that energy for my own writing, so I don’t see an end to this resistance any time soon. I suspect there’s a lot of non-fiction, and a lot of re-reading in my future.

The Reality of Balance

Today, I realized that part of the reason I haven’t been writing like a mad, possessed thing is that I’m not a mad, possessed thing when it comes to my writing — or anything else in my life. I’m in a place where everything is pretty much in balance — family, friends, diet, exercise, creativity — and it’s throwing me a little bit. Being able to spend time and energy on everything means I don’t give all my time and energy to any one thing — and it means I’m not as productive when it comes to some things as I have been in the past.

When I realized that, I had a moment where I considered throwing things out of balance again, giving more time and energy to writing, for example. I was tempted — I would really like to feel as if I were being productive and making more progress — but then I considered the cost in dissatisfaction with the rest of my life and decided it’s not worth it.


Through one thing and another, the writing is going very slowly. I think one of the things is my desire to write more quickly. I think I’m afraid that if I don’t finish it really soon, it’ll become yet another abandoned project. That, or there’s a window of opportunity for it that will be open next May 14th, and if I don’t have the book finished by then, my only hope for it to find readers will vanish, poof!

Yes, I know that’s totally irrational. I’m an irrational person. I can be sensible and all that when I need to be, but at heart, I’m irrational. And I’m okay with that, unless my irrationality starts to wind me in a bunch. Like now.


This is the kind of thing that makes writing hard for me, more, I think, than struggling with the technical stuff.

Or at least that’s my story tonight.


I’m reading Touching From a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division, by Ian Curtis’s widow, Deborah Curtis. I’d say I’m about halfway through and right now, I’m disliking Ian Curtis enough that it might put me off his music. And it’s not that Deborah Curtis attempts to blacken him — the things he does and says that annoy me are presented in a matter-of-fact, “this is what happened,” way. She’s reporting, more or less.

The thing I probably need to remember is that in the story being told, he’s only in his late teens/early 20s. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t admit they behaved stupidly, one way or another, when they were that young. Since Ian Curtis died before he got out of his early 20s, it’s impossible to say what he would have been like, whether or not he would have grown up and out of this particular kind of stupid behavior.

But still…

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