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Les Semaines

00.03.19

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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Frustration

I found the most perfect cover art for my book. It's called The Storm Tree, and it's a photograph by an early American photographer named Anne Brigman. My publisher likes it. I love the image of the woman, caught in the tangle of the beautiful, anguished tree but reaching for the sky. It captures so much of what I'm trying to say in the book, and it's over-the-top and Romantic (capital "R" romantic) in the same way that the book is. The bad news is that the first place I tried to ask for permission to use it said no, though I'm not 100% certain that they hold the copyright. It's also for sale at that web site. Anyone have a spare $12,000 and want to buy it for me? Damn damn damn.

I wish there were something I could do about this. I have a phone number of someone to call for more information, but I think it's just not possible. Argh! Why can't I fall in love with something not under copyright? I wonder if it would have made a difference if mine was a big name New York publisher. Quote possibly. I do have another possibility for the cover, but it's one that the publisher is less certain he can design around, and while it's a lovely piece of art it's not quite as perfect thematically.

So I'm waiting for Monday to see if I have any possible chance of working anything out.

So that's my frustration. It's a small one, I admit. I don't have very impressive frustrations these days, it's true. I feel as though my life is very busy and a little annoying (too many meetings, not enough writing) but basically okay. What other things frustrate me? Well, I'm constantly annoyed with how little writing I actually get done. I know I'd probably get more done if I didn't spend so much time angsting and beating myself up about it.

I'm of course frustrated that I'm, as Vera says, Published Small Fry. Of course I'm grateful for the recognition my writing has received. Truly grateful. But it's frustrating to know that very few people will ever read my poetry, even among the small audience poetry has, and even fewer will read my stories because even the magazine they were in has folded. I look at the shelf of contributor's copies of magazines that I've been published in and wonder if anyone has noticed. I've had good reviews, but the small print runs of my books haven't sold out. There's not much I can do about that except keep writing, sending my work out, and do what I can to promote it. I'd rather be writing than promoting my work, though. Except for the reading part. I love giving readings.

I think my biggest frustration is that there aren't enough hours in the day to do all I want to do. I love sleeping. I never get enough sleep, especially during the work week. I've also had my sewing machine out for a couple of weeks, and haven't yet taken the cover off it. I used to sew a lot of my own clothes and I have this great fabric collection, but just don't have time to sew. My office is a mess, but that's mostly laziness. I keep looking at the piles of paper and just find them intimidating. When our visitors come at the end of the month I'll throw it all into boxes again. Probably.

Oh, and Christina isn't coming to visit after all. She's living in Taiwan, and given the political situation there, she feels she should stay there and save her money and presence in case they need to get out of there in a hurry, which is a distinct possibility. I feel selfish, but I'd really like to see her. Damn.

All in all this is a pretty lame list of frustration. Maybe I'll work up some more by next week.

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

Listening

Penelope Houston has a new rarities and demos/outtakes disc, Once in a Blue Moon, that I've been listening to a lot. It's not as great as tongue, of course and I have a lot of the rarities material on it, but it's still fun.

We also got a disc of Halou's, Sans Soucie, which they're calling a companion disc to we only love you, one of my favourite discs of 1999. This is some remixes, demos, a cover, various rarities, etc. Damn they're good.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Kage Baker's Mendoza in Hollywood is another of her novels of The Company (I've read previous ones and talked about Sky Coyote in August). The concept is that people from our future have found out how to get things that were abandoned/destroyed in the past. They can do a lot of things there, but can't change history. One of the things they do is create cyborgs to work for them by collecting orphans and and abandoned children. Then they work for the company, collecting things and information. This is about an operative, Mendoza (who appears in both previous Company novels), and her experiences in frontier California--before Hollywood, before the native people were wiped out, before the Gold Rush. It has to do with how she copes with living there and how she learns more about the Company. It was interesting, but the plots feel loose to me, and I don't quite care enough about the characters because I'm somehow not let in enough to them. This is hard to describe, because I do enjoy reading these. Hmm. I'll have to think about it more.

Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief is a young adult novel about a thief who gets sprung from jail to go with the king's wizard and thieve an artifact from a neighbouring country in order to gain a huge political advantage for the king. The story focuses on the thief's travails, and how he gets closer to the wizard and their adventures on their journey. The really annoying thing about this one is that the plot depends on information being withheld from the reader by the main character (was it even in first person? I can't remember) and that really annoys me. It's a trick on the reader when the person whose viewpoint is the focus of the story omits basic information in order to surprise the reader. That pissed me off. It's okay when that character learns it him/herself but when they know it all along--grrr.

Maria Flook's My Sister Life: The Story of My Sister's Disappearance is her memoir about her horrible childhood and how her sister ran away at fourteen and what happened to both of the them. their beautiful mother was a truly cold but compelling person, and they learned about a lot of things--particularly relationships--the hardest possible way, and of course most of the things that happened to her sister were horrible. A difficult story to read, but well told. Scary to think of how many people live like her sister did all. Is it enough to say at least they both built lives after that? I suppose so.

Terri Windling and Ellen Strieber's children's novel The Raven Queen is another in The Voyage of the Basset series (I read Tanith Lee's contribution in January). This one was delightful. The tale of the dreamy daughter and practical son of Pre-Raphaelite artists who get tangled up in the Seelie and Unseelie ("good" and "bad" or "light" and "dark") Faery courts. Imaginative and fun, and they managed to sketch an interesting tale and characters in a very short novel.

I also bailed on two books this week, Gregory Maguire's The Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, and Graham Joyce's Dark Sister, both because after about a hundred pages they seemed to be tediously mean-spirited, where it felt to me as though the authors were sneering at their characters. I'm so tired of that. If they're so much smarter and more interesting than their characters why don't they write about smarter and more interesting characters?

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Words are being typing into computer files. Nuff said, okay? No jinxing by too much talk.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

November 1976

591. Got to place things away

I've got to place things away, and get them in their proper perspective. See things the size they really are. My priorities are in the wrong order. I've got to start exploring before i make decisions, get back off the shelf, step back into the things i've let pass me by. (Ha ha world, make little flat built-up world with a thousand pretenses, ha ha, i'm going to leave you behind, and i'm gonna fly.) Stop carrying the past with me, like chapter 463 [in my December 19th entry]. Leave it behind.

592. Watch me now

This is a message to Susan, Laura, and anyone else who reads this book. Watch me, make sure i forget all decisions and just get going. Stop all this mind-living, get back off the shelf. If i start crawling back up there, give me a boot. Tell me to get back down [quote from a Christian rock song about making an objective omitted] (with a little help from my friends).

593. What this all boils down to

[Quote from Christian rock song about letting the dead bury the dead omitted.] So, i'm going to stop worry about killing off my old dead self, stop worrying about burying it. I'll just let the dead bury the dead, stop looking back, just follow Him. It's a long road, but not lonely, i don't have to make it by myself, He's with me, helping me, and I've got lots of brothers and sisters and i'm going to start using them to advantage: His, theirs, and mine. Admitting love is JOY (J = Jesus, O = Others, Y = You) [1]. Joy! Living and giving again, growing again, why did i wait so long? (I'm always so darn blind. [Quote from an Annie Herring song about being set free omitted.] This is a good time to end all the talk (and Book III and Part V) [2].

594. Waking Life

A new Phono led to waking life. Phono growing and stretching beyond the past. Phono reborn (as are we all). Phono more real than time used to be (but have you noticed in recent years that time is getting more real?) You who speak of Phono don't understand what it means, perhaps because it means nothing.

595. I was sitting

Well, i was sitting, veg'tating like i normally do, and a strange fricket walked up. One that had tickled my knee yesterday (that does sound peculiar... but then again we are to be peculiar people, Phono and i [3]). Strange (and often peculiar) people walk up a lot. Often they speak to me. Often i veg'tate through the whole thing but sometimes i listen.

596. Clouds at the corners

Today i have clouds at the corners of my eyes. When i look particularly left or right the clouds show themselves. They are small. Small enough to fit without trouble in the corners of my eyes. They are white clouds, not grey. Sunny day clouds caught, shining, in the fatigue of my smile. I never lose the clouds, just sometimes they hide where i can't reach them. But they can only stay there for a very short time, then must return.

597. Some people doodle

Some people doodle, i Phono. Very little is said so i say something myself, watch the pages fill up never knowing what i write. I am somehow detached from what i write and i never know what it is i have said until i turn back and read it.

598. The top of the page

At the top of the page. I'm at the tope of the page, thinking of inspiration, waiting to reach the bottom of the page. It is far in the distance. Almost at the end of my vision. Listening to someone speak who will never stop talking--his words will land far beyond his reality. They'll continue. Mine? As for mine?

599. Carrying on

I am carrying on as i was before, yet things are different, and they dwell in not-time, not-where i understand. When something obsesses there's nothing to do but stand by and let it burn itself out. It will pass. All things must pass. Even obsession. Anything found will die. But those Forms, they continue, far beyond what we think. The Forms exist. The Forms are part of Him. [4]

600. A hundred more chapters

I've done it again. A hundred more chapters. These past (passed?) from the end of August to the beginning of November. Encompassing changes. It was time for a little dying (myself), crying (purging) and lying (to myself). A time to continue trying to behind again, until finally the breakthrough and beginnings. began. They're still in the birth stages. My magic morning became magic evening and i cried. It's gone beyond over.


NOTES

1. Gag. I hate those cutesy things. I thought I did then, but somehow being a Christian seems clearly to have suppressed my natural good taste, eh?

2. The cover of this one is a guy sending up spray from a slalom waterski. At the end of the book there are four "poems". Here's an example of one, just so you know what I was writing them--not much different from these entries, actually.

driving home through the fog
6:30 in the morning
i'm forgotten and distant
in your thoughts already
and i'm such a good friend
to let you use me like that
and to use the dead part of you
to pull you closer to me
i never understood why
i never tried to think
just allowed myself to be manipulated
and so
manipulated you
we held each other like puppets on strings
pawns in the quiet dark game
of a restless, dreamless night
and a 6:30 escape
driving deadly through the fog
home
to lie alone
seeking the diminishing warmth
3. Somewhere one translation of the Bible it uses that term, so of course we deliberately misconstrued the intentional meaning.

4. We're still reading Plato in philosophy, obviously.

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