Oh, Right. I Should Write Something.

I took today off and got some writing done on Ashland and some squares done on the Return to Hill House afghan and the dishes and laundry and lots of little stuff that had been kind of hanging there, waiting for me to get a chance.

And I heard that one of my favorite poets bought a copy of The Wolf’s Bane, so that’s very cool. And I sold four out of five copies of A City of Ghosts I had at Hypericon. Which was really fun–the con–well, and selling the books. I don’t really know what to say about it other than that it was neat. It’s just weird to think that you’re kind of doing this thing one way and boom here’s this whole crowd of people doing it with each other in this other way.

And, man, I tell you, they feed you! That was a fun surprise.

Finishes

1. The octagon afghan. And it came out of the dryer so soft.

2. The story I told you about yesterday. I even sent it off on submission.

3. The first chapter of “Ashland.” It’s not perfect and, like all first things, will have to be revised substantially once I write the rest, but it’s done. And even, I think, kind of scary.

4. I am going with “Return to Hill House” for the replacement Hill House afghan. It’s lighter than the first and uses some different yarns. We’ll have to see how it goes.

Wants

I both want to be writing and to tour a historic home the tour guides believe is haunted. (Did I tell you guys that I saw a website the other day that claimed Isaac Franklin’s home is haunted by the people he bought and sold?! That must be crowded as fuck. 10,000 angry spirits.)

And I want to finish this afghan. You guys cannot believe all the tails that have to be tucked. I tuck and tuck and tuck and tuck and it’s so little progress. I mean, it’ll be done, soonish I imagine, but whew, I’m probably not doing another octagon afghan, even though I kind of like it better than the hexagons.

A Well-Behaved Dog is Hiding Something

We went on our walk this morning and he was so pleasant and well-behaved and didn’t tug on the leash. He listened. He charmed the AT&T dudes. So, of course, when we got home, I found the world’s largest pile of poop right by the front door.

I don’t know.

He’s been being really weird about going out front lately. So, maybe he didn’t actually get off the porch last night.

I’ve also encountered a strange problem with the octagon afghan. It’s too hot to work on it very long. I wonder if I’m going to have to crank the air conditioning down to 68 to finish it.

Yesterday, I went on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes, a radio show here in town, with Chuck to promote The Wolf’s Bane. It was really cool. The studio is in Metro Center and overlooks the river and this woman sits at the console and just runs everything. I was completely in awe of her. Like some mix of being a band conductor and an air traffic controller.

Anyway, it was really cool and, when/if there’s a link, I’ll share it with you guys. I basically rambled on about Dr. Jack for ever. But I don’t care. People should know about him.

I’m going to buy the yarn for the Return to Hill House afghan today, even though I’m feeling like I’ll be very lucky if I finish up the octagon one this week. I kind of knew this was going to be the slow part, but I’m genuinely impressed with “too hot to work on it” as being the reason for the slowness. Oh, yeah, this is why I don’t make afghans in the summer. It’s hot.

Things Coming Along

I am done tail-tucking on the octagons and about halfway through with the squares. I should begin piecing things together this weekend, I imagine. I was going to sew my seams, but I’m now leaning toward crocheting them, just for strength. I swear to god, if this falls apart in the wash, I’m going to quit crocheting and become a weaver or something.

No, not until I have a workable Hill House afghan to give to C. & M. I have been wondering if I should call the afghan Hill House 2 or Return to Hill House. I like Return to Hill House.

I’m also fairly far along in my third attempt at a first chapter on Ashland. I’m taking it slow. Letting it be nerdy. Not aiming for more than a thousand words in any sitting.

I’m wondering if I should start a The Wolf’s Bane twitter or something. I could tweet the beasts from the bestiary or something. Just to drum up interest. I don’t know how to schedule tweets, though, so I guess I should look into that.

I’m getting a little anxious to hear from people if they liked it. I haven’t heard from anyone that they hated it, anyway. The people who had read it at the party on Friday all seemed really excited about it, so I hope that feeling carries through.

If You’re Not Salty, What are You Worth?

I have a ton of celery. So I made this celery apple soup that I found a recipe for online. And it called for a tablespoon of salt. I checked repeatedly because it just seemed like way too much salt. But there it was–a tablespoon. So, since I hadn’t made the recipe before, I went with it.

And, fuck yes, it was too much salt. I tried everything–the adding sugar trick, the adding starch trick, the adding water trick.

None of it worked.

And I didn’t finish the Hill House squares, not even the 63. But I’m going to try to get to 70.

And we have to eat that fucking salty soup again tonight.

I Have Many Feelings

1. The Butcher’s vehicle broke down in Gallatin, so I had to get up before dawn to go get him. I am wired on coffee and exceptionally tired.

2. I got some out-of-left-field news yesterday, unexpected and good, but also, unexpected.

3. I’m reviewing edits on a story and I am a little startled by how angry I’m getting at the copyeditor. I don’t often have the chance to be copyedited except when K. does it. The thing I guess I’m realizing is that I trust K. implicitly. I don’t trust this person I don’t know, because I don’t know him/her (I think it’s a her, but I’m not sure). And the thing is that her/his edits are fine. This is not about his/her work. This is some weird thing about me being all “NNNOOOOO!!!” (with growling bear noises) and then having to step back and ask myself if this is truly about the editing suggestion or about me. 90% of it is this weird feeling of wounded defensiveness. If I had a therapist, I guess I’d talk it through. Since I don’t, I’ll just mention it on the internet.

4. My parents are here. I’m taking them to the Country Music Hall of Fame tomorrow.

5. On Friday, I have to take dog poop to the vet.

6. So, you know, mixed feelings.

Busy, I’m So Busy, My Head is Spinning (You’re Welcome for the Earworm)

Every winter, I should just put a reminder on my calendar that I am morose during the winter. And that I will swing wildly the other way once I see the sun again. I have been really busy getting shit done. I love the Hill House afghan. I can’t wait to see it all laid out, but I really like how the part I have done feels.

I only feel a tiny bit bad about calling it the Hill House afghan because I do think it will be cozy and wonderful and I hope C&M don’t feel any weird, bad vibes off it.

I think I edited that Isaac Franklin piece harder than I have ever edited anything in my life. I am getting prouder of my willingness, at least in non-fiction, to write something as a way of getting started, and then cutting it away when the general shape of the piece clearly calls for a different kind of beginning.

But I only saw two people I wasn’t related to this weekend, which is good for getting shit done, but not good for feeling like you’re connected with the world.

My parents arrive very soon, so I spent some time cleaning. I was hoping the Butcher would also spend some time cleaning and then the house would be clean, but he spent the weekend helping friends get their house ready for sale. So… yeah. Butt I hope to have a nice visit with them and then I hope to see people I haven’t seen in weeks.

And I hope to get sincerely started on “Ashland.”

We’re a month out from the release of The Wolf’s Bane. We shall see, dear readers, we shall see.

Good Newses!

1. The yarn to finish up the Hill House afghan is on its way.

2. The editor loves the Isaac Franklin piece.

3. I sold “The Four Gardens of Fate” to Apex magazine. Yes, there’s a Borges reference in there. And yes, I’ll have more details as I know them.

Reading the Tea Leaves

–I think my Isaac Franklin piece is pretty good. I’m curious and nervous about the editing stage. I don’t know if they’ll let it stand or if they talked me out of it, but I didn’t use the term “black people” in the piece at all. Just “people” and then, when needed, “white people.” That’s the one thing I came away from the Ben & Sue project most firmly convinced of. Who just get to be “people” in a story is who the reader identifies with. The [adjective] people always seem like someone other than where the reader’s sympathy is expected to lie.

–I’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed that everything stays on track for The Wolf’s Bane.

–The trick with needing more yarn at this point in an afghan is that there’s always the temptation to revise the plan, to change the idea behind the afghan. Like maybe the rest of the squares should just be solid colors? But you can’t change horses mid-stream. Well, you can, but it’s a bad idea. The chaos of the Hill House afghan must carry us through.

Things that Frustrate Me

gray on stripe

1. The stripey afghan is taking so long. And I think it might need another skein of yarn after this one to be a usable size. I really like it. I find the gray part really soothing and I think it’s going to end up being really dramatic. I just wish I were closer to done. But I also want it to be awesome for S., so I need to make peace with it maybe needing another skein after this one.

2. Someone on Twitter said something about the comments on one of my Pith posts and so… yes. I know. I know. But I still did. And they did make me feel bad and weird. The weirdest was the guy who slagged on my writing there and then wished I’d go back to this blog, which he then demonstrated a certain level of familiarity with. Oh, hi, creepster! I actually find that more… not upsetting… that’s probably too strong¬† a word, but disquieting than most commenters. You don’t like me, so that’s compelled you not to stop reading me, but to find out more about me?

How is this not a sign to someone that they’ve moved into “I’m behaving like a person who should be flipped off by people whenever I go out in public” territory?

3. My arm hurts from the damn dog. Not massively, but enough to make me mad all over again every time I tweak it.

4. I appreciate Eric Crofton’s answer to this question. Why do I continue to do this thing I’m not convinced I’m very good at? That all the folks covered in point 2. up there are happy to tell me I’m not very good at? Basically because it must be done.

5. The Butcher still has bronchitis. I love him, but I’m really used to a lot more alone time.

6. You think the hardest thing about writing a novel is writing it, just physically sitting down and cranking out 80,000+ words. And that is difficult. But there’s something to the difficulty of convincing yourself that it’s worth writing more words when no one gave a shit about the first couple of bunches of tens of thousands of words.

But it must be done. So, I’ll do it. As soon as I get done reading the four books I want to read–Absalom! Absalom!, House of Leaves, The Haunting of Hill House, and The Red Tree. At least three of these I have already read before, but this time, I want to pay closer attention to what I found satisfying and unsatisfying about them.

7. I’m calling my haunted house “Ashland,” because I think that may be one of the loveliest words in the English language. “Ashland City” is especially nice. It’s like licking an ice cream cone and, at the last second, your tongue snags on the waffle part.

Two Things

1. I’m struck by how much “Nashville is about to be ruined” talk assumes that, when the speaker moved into a neighborhood, it was a good thing and that the troubles they faced while moving into said neighborhood were evidence of the benefits the neighborhood saw from them moving into it. But, now that new people are moving into the neighborhood and the speaker is the unwanted, nay, unconsidered person who lives in the neighborhood, that’s an injustice.

Which is not to say that we’re not facing some challenges as a city. Just that I notice how much some gentrification is fine and some is ruinous.

2. A lot of modern haunted house stories assume the house has some hidden dimension, places that aren’t immediately obvious or become revealed over time. —House of Leaves, House of Windows, The Red Tree.

3. I went out to the Hermitage today to look at the house. The main hallway is surprisingly dark.

Briefly

Very productive meeting today.

I’m worried the Butcher might have bronchitis. I put my ear to his back and his lungs sounded normal. I put my ear to his chest, up higher and I heard a whistle. A faint whistle.

I think I need to get down to Carnton.

I Don’t Even Like Zombies

I tend not to find zombies, the current pop culture zombies we have anyway, very scary. But holy shit, last night I had the worst zombie dream. I woke up early and took the dog for a walk (which was thwarted by the bog, but whatever) to clear my head.

We watched Battle Creek and I had mixed feelings. I love Dean Winters. I loved the whole Battle Creek police department. But I hated the FBI guy and the show doesn’t really feel very Battle Creek specific. They could benefit from doing a week-long ride-along with my uncle and learning where people hang out and what they talk about. Believe me, it’s just highly improbable that anyone could move to town–like the FBI guy did–and not have simply everyone he meets telling him about cereal and their connection to it.

It’s like when you live here and you know people in the music industry and in healthcare. You live in Battle Creek, someone works at Kellogg’s or Post. It’s a company town, pretty much. One of my dead uncles even lived in the Post company houses.

We were also laughing because it looked like their establishing shots were all taken within like five blocks of each other. So, yeah, clearly, they came to town. And clearly, they did not venture very far out of downtown. Which, considering how dominated by Kellogg’s the downtown is, makes the complete absence of cereal even stranger.

So, it’s quirky–the coffee cakes–but not quirky in the ways you’d expect–mentions of cereal, Sojourner Truth, the Seventh Day Adventists, etc.

I spent some time recently, too, listening to Nebraska as a whole album, not just stumbling across random songs from it. God, that’s a good album. But the person who had the idea that it’s a better, albeit more depressing, album if you listen to the songs in backwards order is right.

Things I Wanted to Mention

–I spent the afternoon at the retinologist. All looks fine. He thinks the flashes are some other, old-age thing. Since I hate new things, I am afraid of dying (not being dead, mind you, just dying), so I don’t appreciate the reminders that there’s no going back.

–I massively improved a story this weekend by changing a “one day, last summer” to “yesterday.”

–The weird thing about being a writer is that you never really know if no one wants to publish you because you’re not very good or if no one wants to publish this particular story because it just doesn’t strike their fancy. This feeling, apparently, never goes away.

–I am about to have a ridiculous number of crochet projects in the works. I’m stalled on the hexagons until my yarn arrives. I promised the Butcher I would make him a scarf. He has now procured the yarn he wants for that, so I have to set aside everything and knock that out this week. But, in the meantime, I have started a stripey afghan.

–They’ve switched the generic on my birth control pills and I dislike it for a couple of reasons. One, they’ve given the pills a slight minty flavor. I don’t really want my medicine to taste like weak breath mints. I find it disconcerting. It doesn’t taste like it can possibly be doing anything. The second is that it doesn’t really curb my PMS, so I got all weepy on Sunday because the Butcher took the dog over to his friend’s house and I was convinced that the dog would like this friend better than me and never come home.

–I miss walking in the mornings. I can’t wait for the mud to subside.

Non-Walk

It’s too wet out to walk the dog. The yard is in it’s favorite “muddy, bog” stage. I didn’t really figure that out until I was almost to the shed. But the dog pooped. I consider that to be something of a victory.

I had a busy weekend–finishing the afghan, researching at the TSLA, doing some Project X stuff with LT, dinner with nm and them, shopping all Sunday morning, and figuring out the new pattern so that I can get started on the next afghan. I like it. It’s from one of the motif books the Butcher got me for Christmas and I think it’s going to be pretty cool. It is making me wonder a little bit if I might try something a little less blocky next time or with different sized elements.

And I wrote this for Pith.

Oh, This Day

It started with rescuing the dogs from the skunk adventure, which was funny and terrible, and then I had a really good lunch meeting, and then I had to explain to someone what a butt plug is, which was just… ugh… embarrassing. And then I finished The Boy Who Drew Monsters which really pissed me off. I can barely abide by movies where the problems people have would be solved if they’d just listen to each other, I cannot abide by a whole book where part of the reason things are dragging out is that no one will listen to their damn kid.

I’m tired and grouchy and also happy. I am a swirl of mixed emotions.

Mind Blown

Today on Twitter I saw a pie chart that shows what Americans think the racial make-up of our country is–about a quarter black, a quarter Hispanic, and a little less than a quarter white (roughly)–versus what it actually is–not a white minority, by any stretch.

And someone had commented something about the “wisdom of crowds.”

I laughed, but, yeah, the crowd isn’t wiser than individuals just based on some great crowd magic.

Just The Sound of It

I did so much today. Went to Hendersonville and ran a bunch of errands, came so close to finishing up the squares, wrote my Pith post, read Lauren Oliver’s Rooms (Didn’t really like it.), and contemplated whether I should join the SFWA or try to get another qualifying sale so that I can join as a full member. But what if I never get another qualifying sale? That would suck.

I should be in bed, but instead I’m contemplating whether I feel much like a writer.

I’ve had a really nice few days here. It kind of amazes me what just having a little extra money means. The luxury of not having to decide which things at Target you don’t really need that bad.

Words I Like

DO NOT PRESS PLAY ON THIS VIDEO AT WORK.

But literally nothing makes me happier than the way she says “I guess that cunt’s getting eaten.” Sometimes you look at the way words work together and you just know something is perfect. This sentence is perfect–the repeating “uh”s in “guess” and “cunt;” all those “t”s, especially the way it sounds like she’s adding one by pronouncing it “get” “ten” and “eat” “ten.” And it’s cheeky. I like it.

Recently, I wrote this paragraph:

My favorite thing about Harwell is her ability to be both sly as a fox and something of a mother hen to all the wayward chicks of the state house. A fox with chicks for children is never short of dinner, though, and I have to imagine she’s already licking her lips at the prospect of dealing with her fourteen most recalcitrant representatives.

And I’m really pleased with “a fox with chicks for children.” That is perfect, too. You’ve got the repeating fs, the repeating chs and the repeating os and is. I also like it because it’s almost in iambs, except for that “ren” fucking things up.