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Les Semaines

00.07.09

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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Summer

I still must be fighting this virus and its aftermath, as I have an eye infection and have been sleeping a lot and having days where I just don't feel as good as I ought to. And days in between where I feel fine. It's frustrating. I want to be better. Well, I'm working on it.

This first week of my summer has not been what I'd hoped--because Jim was home the early part of the week and I had two mornings in the Clarion West classroom and I went to Candas Jane Dorsey's Clarion West reading and spent some time with her, then Thursday was Jim's birthday, and Friday the Clarion West party for Candas, and yesterday we went to a friends for dinner... In other words, I've been way too social to get any impressive amounts of anything done, much less working on my novel. On the other hand, I have been having a good time.

I'm just determined that this isn't going to be the pattern for this summer--that it will slip away like other summers, like this week has, without me making serious progress on what matters. If that really is what matters to me. I can't help but wonder as so many times the novel seems to come last in my life. Maybe it's this novel--but if I don't finish this one I'm not sure I could ever finish another, since this one has haunted me for so long and just won't seem to let me go. So we'll see.

But this really is summer. The days are long and warm and the occasional grey mornings always seem to break into sun at some point. The strawberries are nearly done and almost daily Jim and I are out in the raspberry patch picking and eating the berries. We have a few peas, too, and I let too much of the lavender go but I still have some leftover from last year and I've already made sachets as Christmas presents, but I do want to make some for my own drawers. I even have my sewing machine out and have done a few small repairs. I wonder if I'll be able to resist the temptation to do some real sewing. I have a lot of clothes that need mending, though, that's for sure. I keep spending time cleaning my study and mess it all up again in the matter of an hour or two. This is summer.

Oh, and we even have popsicles.

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

Listening

Being doing a little culling in the cd collection, which has meant I have listened to lots of things that I'm not going to keep. I've just started listening to things to get rid of, and have already created a large stack of things I know I won't listen to again. I guess I might some time in the future regret a few of these leaving, but I can't imagine it. Most of these I can't imagine why I thought I might listen to them again, and to prove I wouldn't they have languished for years. The only thing that bothers me is that somewhere out there I know there are people who would cherish these. I wish I could get them to those people. I'm coming to the conclusion that there are a lot of wonderful voices out there but a dearth of good songwriters, and especially of good producers who don't try to wrench the material into something that's like every other pop song out there.

In the course of this, I rediscovered Sam Brown. Damn, she has a killer voice. I'll even forgive her some of her too-pop-for-my-taste moments. Her album 43 minutes is nearly perfect.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Mollie Hunter's The Smartest man in Ireland was a fun kid's book romp about a man who thinks he's the smartest man in Ireland and how his pride leads him to conflict with the fairies. Small and charming like a fairy tale.

Graham Joyce's Dreamside had a great idea--that a group of people, trained by a professor, learned to dream so lucidly that they could meet and interact in dreams. Of course the veil between dream and reality becomes so thin that they have recurring dreams that they are waking up that are so real they are exhausting, and things on the dreamside start affecting real life. The story, for me, was flawed by static, cardboard characters and the story turning something that could have being magical and eerie into something equally cardboard--something of a horror story that never quite feels menacing enough.

When I first started Melissa Scott's The Jazz, I thought I wouldn't finish it--I wasn't particularly in the mood for a cyberpunk thriller. Well, reading just a little farther changed my mind. Sure, this is a cyberpunk thriller: it's about a young man who in looking for a way to break into the virtual writing world steals a program to produce popular material from the entertainment studio his parents are contracted with. Due to the studio's volatile executive, his is quickly on the run, and Tin Lizzy, who was hired to help develop his idea, decides to help him. She's had a serious run-in with that executive before, and immediately they are both on the run. The story takes place mostly in the real world, with some virtual meetings and such, but the emphasis is on a near-future setting. It was that, and the character of Tin Lizzy that really caught my interest in this. It's a quick and delightful read.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Reimagining myself into my novel--six years cold, pretty much though I've tinkered and tinkered and tinkered and added several pages recently--is harder than I thought it would be and also easier. Harder in that every sentence I write seems to lead me in a certain direction, not necessarily the direction I thought I was heading the moment, or that I'd planned to be at the moment, but somehow the direction that the scene and characters seem to call for. That's the easy part--they are calling for things. I've written enough of this and thought enough about the story, its characters and setting, that they do call for things and lean in their own directions. That's relieving.

I sat in for a couple of days in the Clarion classroom, with Candas Jane Dorsey teaching, who is someone I've met several times and whose work--particularly her novel, Black Wine, I admire greatly. (When I first read Black Wine, I wanted to start reading it all over again immediately.) We went to lunch together on Wednesday after class, and talked a little bit about writing--how writing a novel really only teaches you to write that particular novel and not the next one. It's not as though writing one helps you write another.

This feels so true when I think about the difference between this one and my first attempt, Bryony's Needle (which if I ever get back to them will likely become the title of the prequel), which is structured so differently, is so much more conventional in shape and in nearly every aspect, while this one... well, while it's not experimental per se, seems to be creating its own shape.

Last night at 3:00 I started fretting (once again) about whether I should maybe change it to third person rather than first. The more I think about it, the more I think I probably should--I think it would actually let the reader get closer to my main character, rather than it being told through the shadowing filter of her voice. Now I have to look at this and see if I'm right, and if I am I've got a hell of a revision on my hands. But not now. Now I write and save revisions for later.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

March 1977

752. Dialogue

Phono is becoming a dialogue. Good. It might improve him/her/it. As long as i don't neglect Phono's other uses--as if i would. Phono is relatively un-neglect-able. In English and slowly dying. Took fanatical notes for a second or two then gived [sic] up. Better sooner than later. The Stone Angel. [1] Hagar--the bondswoman who wanted to rejoice. I am Hagar (in a way) but i also am Sarah. I want to rejoice.

753. Rejoice!!

Well, i'm not in the mood for it today. ""Rejoice in the Lord alway...") But i do not go gentle into that good night, i rage, rage against the dying of the light. Still, i do not go gentle into that good Light; i rage, rage against the dying of the night. [2] And so i remain, hovering forever into shadow. Shadows & lost again. My poetry images from a way back. I haven't changed, have i?

754. English

See! I have picked up on something. Hagar. The Dylan Thomas lines. Cat's Cradle. Something. But no damn cat. No damn cradle. [Quote from Vonnegut about living by foma--lies--omitted.] I hover between the foma that helps me cope and the Truth that would let me live. Hover. In shadows. And so it goes...

755. I wish it would

Go, that is. I'm tired of the there-not-there. Give up? One ways or t'other? Why? When? Stuck in the middle. Backwards down the stairs. [3]

756. Raven Room

This is the Raven Room [4], and i am in a corner surrounded by people ravin' about chemistry. Delta G. Who/what? Volume of concentrations, i huh? Quietly in my corner, ignored & ignoring. My head aches. Above my eyes. Maybe i'm going blind. (How can I? I see--but only through shadows.) Shadows, shadows, i am overcome & overwhelmed by shadows, half-Light, half-darkness. Raven Room, too.

757. The Tune

The Tune. Larry Norman tells about it. The Seed tells about it. I tell about it in my hazy shady way. The Tune has nothing to do with shade & shadows. I do. I try to have to do with the Tune. But there are too many shadows with me. If i threw away the shadows (my ball & chain) I & the Tune could be free [quote from Barry Macguire--another Christian rocker--omitted]. As i said before, i hand on to the ball & chain for dear death.

758. Terrible/great

I'm in a terrible/great mood. I've lost my grad present pen (working on a Bic now) but there was a mist of Mount Doug, sort of trailing over the sides. I slept late but the sun shone bright in my room. I'm not free of the ball & chain yet, but i can see the light at the end of the shadowy corridor. My fingers hurt, but only because i'm remembering how to make music with them. A bad/good morning to you, Phono. A bad/good morning.

759. A patch of sunshine across my paper

It's there, and somehow makes it all worthwhile. Saturday night was very pleasant, but i died again Sunday my wounds still ache). So many things don't exist anymore, their loss fills me with joy & pain (and emptiness). Finding temporary fill-in measures, and maybe (!?) a few long-lasting ones, too (hope?). But it's the patch of sunshine across my paper that makes it all worthwhile.

760. Wouldn't you know it

As soon as i start being happy about patches of sunlight the rain comes (damn rain). Wind and rain, rain in the fattest, heaviest drops i've seen in a long time. I love wind & rain, but somehow after the sun they were just irritating. The rain goes on for hours & days while the sun lasts such a short time. Somehow this day all seems tied in with the space my mind is in.

761. What?

Is Rankin more incoherent than normal, or is it just a side effect of coming in late? Barcley? It's Berkeley. I think he's O.D.'d on grapefruit juice. He oversnarfed this morning.
     Just the bottom part? Is Phono now being restricted, or am I being cut off?? Anyway, yes, Rankin O/Ded this morning. When he started his lecture, there were only 10 people here. I was all alone in this row & furious that everyone had abandoned me. Do you find the argument from relativity of perception conclusive? Is anything in this damn course conclusive? Abandon me... I am lost... Have you voted?[5]
     No. To Everything.
     Oh. That was easy. I think I'll write multiple choice exams, if I can be shuffled off that easy. I haven't written multiple choice questions since Grade 3. The answers I got weren't good, but the Red Crayola I had didn't work either. Consequently, I am still here. If I exist. If anything exists. Nothing is conclusive.
     I just had a multiple choice exam yesterday. The problem is, it isn't really a multiple choice exam; it's disguised. It really is a questionnaire for an experiment. They switch question sheets before running it through the computer. Hi, Bill! Awake? [6]
     Sho' am. Ah was jes' baggin' a few zzz's!
     Rankin talks faster than i write. If/when he makes a point i can't get it down. I guess it doesn't matter anyway. Nothing exists. Everything isn't. The Existential isn't. That should be the name of this course.
     [Rob again.] Bill is asleep. He had insomnia today. It has taken him 25 minutes. I wish he would stop talking about blood. It makes me squeamish. If I pass out, pick me up on your way out, OK? The girl behind me just did a Bill and left. Maybe it's contagious. Do you ever wonder why you come to this class? I do. But I know (I think) why. It is really a statistics course. 16 people here today. 25 minutes to get Bill asleep. 46 uhs per minute from Rankin. There must be a correlation
     A high, positive, correlation. Maybe this course is still Bill's psych. experiment.
     Absolutely. Only the experimenter is the one who always falls asleep. Not very scientific, I think. Maybe it's an insomnia epxeriment. The experimenter establishes the sleep baseline. The experimentees (subjects? are all insomniacs--if they exist.
     I CAN'T STAND THIS ANY LONGER!!! (I think i just dug through 3 pieces of paper.)
     Three (3) pieces of paper. Three (3). You see, this is a STATS course.
     Oh No!


NOTES

1. A wonderful, classic novel by Canadian Margaret Laurence about growing older.

2. Dylan Thomas, and playing with Dylan Thomas.

3. That's from a Larry Norman song about someone facing upwards but still walking backwards down the stairs. Nice metaphor for many Christians trying to be better Christians.

4. One of the cafeterias at UVic.

5. This is Rob, of course.

6. Bill is another classmate. The class started in a large full classroom, and ended in a small seminar room. A high attrition class.

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