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Les Semaines

00.01.23

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout

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0123 Story

I see this date as a pattern, and it pleases me. Is that odd? I love finding patterns in things.

When I was reading Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn and he described the tics of the main character, who has Tourette's Syndrome, I recognized so many of them it made me a little nervous. The habit of counting when doing something boring (I almost always count stairs when I'm climbing them), making patterns out of floor tiles and other designs, obsessing on snatches of songs in my head, playing with sound patterns of words in the middle of conversations.... I wonder how common all of this is or if I really should be worried about it. Especially when I find something like the number of the month and the date lining up is a small delight.

I think that's why I like reading and writing stories, because it puts a shape to chaotic life, at the very least a beginning and an end.

I've been thinking a lot about story recently. How even in poems, much less my fiction, story is important to me. I don't like poems about nothing, so matter how beautiful they are. If they're simply descriptive while I can admire them I can't get actively involved in them. And it's not as though they need to have as much structure as a story does, just that I like it best when there's the idea of a plot and real characters and a situation lurking behind the words, hinted at through it all. There's a lot of that in my poetry, so maybe writing fiction was a natural for me.

In the world of speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy) writers talk a lot about story and frequently say tout it as a value that genre fiction has that mainstream fiction doesn't. I'm not sure I agree with that, but the whole idea of Story--more than just plot but the interaction of plot, characters, situation fascinates me. The patterns they create. The shape of a tale, twists and all. Stories like parallel lines, stories like arrows, stories like Celtic knots. I seek them everywhere. Even in the stories I tell about my own life. Even in the tiles on the bathroom floor. 0123: story.

By the way, the fan still isn't fixed. Chuck was sick this weekend when he and Jim would otherwise have gotten together to finish fixing it. An unfinished story, at least for now.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

Some weeks ago someone sent a message to The Ectophiles' Guide email account suggesting we take a look at a band called Splashdown. I was online anyway, so I took a look at their website and downloaded some MP3s and right away ordered the available discs.

If anyone is wishing Rainbirds would be more productive or easier to get in the U.S., well, this woman's voice is a dead-ringer for Katharina Franck, and the music is fairly Rainbirds-like, too (in other words, far-ranging, edgy but pretty, not the standard verse-chorus-verse but still melodic).

Jim says she sounds like a cross between Franck and Dolores Riordan of The Cranberries. I mostly hear Franck, but what a voice!

This will definitely be high on this year's list of discoveries. So far they have 2 eps and a short album, but one of the eps is a teaser for a major label album on Java/Capitol coming out later this year.

I also got my copy of Jill Cohn's disc the absence of Moving that I mentioned at the beginning of the year. I also got her first disc, which doesn't do anything for me. The new one is far more interesting and I've already played it a couple of times since it arrived yesterday.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I found Kate Elliott's King's Dragon rich and enjoyable. It's the start of a series of which there are already three, but I don't mind that at all; I'll be happy to be absorbed in this world and struggle again. What works so well in this are the characters, how true their relationships and reactions ring, and how the action focuses mostly on the small scale and thus shows the big scale things going on. Meaning it focuses on people and how the big events in the world are shaping their experiences. I'm impressed so far, and this is by far the best epic fantasy I've come across in a while. I'd rate it higher than George R.R. Martin's because it feels much more human and less mean-spirited overall--at least so far.

I can't remember who recommended Helen Dunmore's A Spell of Winter and why, but I did just finish reading it. A strange and unsatisfying novel but I was intrigued by the lives and situation of the characters--the problem for me was that none of them seemed defined or quite came alive for me. Usually when I read mainstream fiction after reading fantasy I am struck by how much better mainstream writers portray character, but not in this case: Elliott's characters seemed differentiated and alive to me, while Dunmore's were hazy ciphers to me.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Spent most of the week fussing with laying out my book. Since I sent the manuscript in to the publisher in Courier, he suggested I take a look at it in a couple of other fonts to see if I liked the look and if I could get the poems to work since several of them are tricky to lay out (justified, looooong lines and other typographical hazards). Anyway, this was this week's NAA (NOVEL Avoidance Activity) and took up most of the time I would otherwise (maybe) have spent writing.

In writing news I finally got an official acceptance for the two poems that I'd heard unofficially about in December. They will appear in the February issue of TickleAce, a magazine from Newfoundland that has a pretty good reputation in Canada. I'm quite pleased. Oh, and my signed book contract came back.

Anyway, I'll be sending my published the manuscript on disc in a day or two, so that's one less NAA I can revel in. Mind you, I've got a whole long list of other things I need to do soon to take its place.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

September-October 1976

512. Well, Phono

After a bit of a blow-up, things are beginning to calm down now, but there's so little time and so much to do, and i have to sleep. Need sleep badly, crying for it, but i'm busy, too busy, to take time out for a little rest. But Lord, i'm beginning to believe in miracles [quote from Larry Norman's song "I Don't Believe in Miracles" asking whether a miracle is happening to the speaker omitted]. Yup, i do. I'm growing [1], and if that isn't a miracle, i don't know what is.

513. Reading over

Reading over in a bit of pain and nostalgia. Pain from the message from Paul--wishing he still felt that way. Wishing i still felt that way instead of this unerasable loneliness that i can't share with anyone. It's such a selfish loneliness i don't even want to share it with God. I need something so badly--maybe it was Paul, maybe it's nothing now. He so obviously doesn't want me, i hesitate to admit to anyone i still care. Time has not done its healing this time.

514. Friday paranoia

Friday paranoia, looking for sleep. So little time; so much to do... of course. ONly lonely, home empty. Free. Sorta. But who wants to be free? We all want to be chained, but we want to choose the way. Aren't i the greatest judge of human nature? F'shure. I can be bothered to try.

515. Energy?

Wrote a typical 11:00 essay last night, but with a different---i had spent 7 hours trying to write the first line (what's happening to me?) I can't figure it or anything out. I don't understand, and haven't the energy to try. How can i find that zip and restlessness i had all summer? Maybe i'm beginning to spread myself too thin. But there's so much i want to do, i have to do. Self-discipline (ugh!) is where it all much be.

516. Sitting waiting

It seems i'm doing this a lot lately, sitting waiting. Something to happen? Waiting for time to pass. S'there. S'here. What? Passing? Don't know what to say in a chapter i began four days ago.

517. For a lot of time

For a lot of time, not much to see, or say. Changes are coming to stay by my words aren't. Nothing to say. Lots to do. Time is burning itself out. and i can't bear it. I don't even know what i'm saying, or why i am so incoherent. I'm not ready to wake up. Can't you tell? Sleeping is so nice!!

518. Just babbling

I'm just babbling 'cause i feel like talking and don't have anyone to talk to right now. Also slightly exhausted. And someone had to phone and confuse me at 10 past 8 this morning (besides the strange voice when the world was over) what a pain, i don't even know or care about what i'm saying, i'm just saying. Besides Young Peoples' [2] last night was fun. Paul's being sweet and crazy, and something's happening.

519. What's going on?

[Quote from Al Stewart's "What's Going On" about strange people omitted.] I'm the one, and i don't believe it. But i'm not the one i'm thinking of, no i'm not the one i need. [3]


NOTES

1. Growing as a Christian, I meant. Not physically.

2. Meeting of teenagers from the church.

3. A paraphrase of lines later in the Al Stewart song mentioned above.

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