Les Semaines


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


Fifth Week of Clarion

After a meeting of our fiction writing workshop, I had to race to the dorms for our usual Sunday night meeting. Leslie and I talked to the students about the previous week, and then Ellen Datlow came upstairs to introduce herself to the students. She asked them what they'd come to the workshop for, if they felt they were getting toward their goal, and what they wanted to get from her. An interesting session, hearing all that.

Monday was my day off, and I can't remember what I did besides get up ready to go into the classroom because Leslie thought she might be late but right before I left she phoned and so I went back to bed and slept until about 11:00. Amazing. I guess I'd already been up for two hours by the time she called, so sleeping to 11:00 was more like sleeping to 9:00 but it still felt excessive.

Tuesday I was back in the classroom, and in the evening Ellen was interviewed at Elliott Bay Bookstore by Howard Waldrop. My friend Dixielynn came with me because she's a big Waldrop fan, and we had a fun dinner down at Elliott Bay and then both enjoyed the exchange between Ellen and Howard a lot.

Wednesday and Thursday I was in the classroom again and running errands after and the days just disappeared. Friday was another day off and Jim took it off, too and we both slept in. Dixielynn passed by on her Vespa, but then came in for tea and later Jim brought Chuck over and they chatted and worked in the garden.

The weather had been rainy earlier in the week, but it was sunny for most of Friday. We also did some work in the garden along the way of the week, picking raspberries which have been extremely prolific this summer, taking care of the roses and my continual work at trying to remove the dead flowers and weeds. I've also been greatly enjoying the ibook--working on the backlog of Ectophiles' Guide stuff in the evenings while watching Dark Shadows (we're taping it as the SciFi channel replays it from the start, and it's the perfect show to multitask while watching since so far it's veeeerrrrryyyyy sssssslllloooowwwww).

Later on Friday I picked up Octavia Butler and we met Leslie and Ellen for dinner at Julia's, then went to Ellen's party at Nicola Griffith and Kelley Eskridge's. It was quite an enthusiastic party. The students seem more relaxed this week, and some are homesick and ready to leave while others really don't want it to end. I'm sure some of them feel both things at once. I feel as though I've talked myself out at all of these parties.

Saturday I spent the day with Jim, who is getting a little tired of being a Clarion widower since I spend so much time away in the evenings. We had a lovely, quiet day together.

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


I've been listening to some Sandy Denny boots. Shhh. She's so amazing; her voice still gives me the shivers. These are boots of her old BBC sessions, though I do have a very short-term release of an official set of BBC sessions and I'm not sure what the difference is. Sometime I'll have to do a compare and contrast. Meanwhile, I just enjoy this. I've been listening to Sandy Denny for well over 20 years and expect I'll be happy to listen to her for 20 more. And then some.

last week's listening § next week's listening


James P. Blaylock's Night Relics (see my May 20 and June 24 entries for comments on other Blaylock novels) is a ghost story set in a canyon in California near Los Angeles. A recently divorced man's wife and child disappear and he hears crying in the middle of the night and sees a woman who reminds of--but isn't--his wife. There's also a creepy salesman trying to convince people in the canyon to sell their cabins for a shady deal being organized by yet another man. It's tangled in bad faith and making changes and ghosts haunting them all. While there were many points in this I liked, I felt as though several points here were confused and a little unsatisfying.

Jack Womack's Going Going Gone is the final novel in his Dryco series. It begins with an odd and rather interesting character, Walter Bullitt, who in an alternate past clandestinely deals drugs for the government. Sorta. He also tests a lot of the drugs himself. Then ghosts start showing up, haunting his life and his apartment, and he meets two very strange women and the situation gets odder and odder and we begin to wonder if the world can be saved. This was a fun and recommended read. I especially love Jack's ear for language.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Just a little more tinkering and not much actual writing at all, but Sunday began with a meeting of our fiction writing workshop, where we ended up by going over the fourth chapter of Bryony's Needle after all. The reaction to the chapters has been very uneven, so I'm not sure what to think of it all but I do have some great ideas as to how to make it better, which I am trying to implement but not having much time to do so. The workshop continues to be high quality--both in terms of the critiquing and the writing submitted--I think some of the members are having trouble with some of the traditional elements in Bryony's Needle--no matter that I don't deal with them in usual ways, having them there at all are roadbumps for them. The problem is that what interests me most in speculative fiction is its ability to deal with mythic tropes, with patterns of human behaviour, and illuminate by setting them in fantastic or future worlds.

Also got one of the most wonderful reviews of Blood Memory to appear to date. This one in the current issue of Arc magazine. it was written by Barry Dempster, and he seemed to totally grasp what I was trying to do with the book and then some. I would love to be able to post the whole thing here, I love it so much. Here are a few quotes:

This is rich stuff, daring both rant and rhapsody, crafted with much imaginative skill. The book is arranged in all sorts of interesting, challenging designs....

Graham creates a lovely blend of urgency and subtlety making many of the poems not only page turners, but something to savour as well. Her descriptions always stretch out expectations with just the right lilt, the perfect detail...I love how intensely she leads us into greater and greater complexities, history and mythology and the most secretive parts of the heart all colliding in a grand burst of energy...the page lighting up like a meteor shower.


last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

January - February 1980

1110. The end of                                                                                     January 31st 1980

The end of a month, which is a station I rested in between journeys, which is the car that travelled while I travelled in it. Such a short/long month to name the days I spent, each of which becomes a facet in my image of January.
     I saw a bald eagle today, to end the month. Awkward bird, perched on a dead fir too weak to hold it, thrown by the wind. It sat right above the highway, but none of the other drivers saw it, one woman only checked her watch to see that the time was the end of January. My image of January: a bald eagle fighting the wind from a scrawny branch.
     Wind-and-rain marks these days. Wind and rain to walk into, to walk through, to come out the other end of...into wind and more rain. January is like a tunnel that leads deceptively into another tunnel, February and on. It is February now by my clock. The time just turned February. This promises to be the end of January 1980. There won't be another. It promises to be the beginning of February, without a rainy doubt. I myself promise to rain doubts, to tear the bark off February as the First Peoples of the coast took the bark of cedars--only enough for what they needed, never enough to kill the tree, always with the proper reverence and style. January has already repaired itself and walked away whole.

1111. Candlemass Day                                                                                     February 2nd, 1980

I missed day here--February 1st came and went with a word of recognition. I picked up poor Buglet, took Brüne to the vet and went to work, which swallowed all the day. Today I had a good visit with Brenda, who is home for the weekend.
     Mom and Dad and I went to dinner to a friend of Mom's who works at the museum. She and her husband have a house that is a fantasy all new and cedar and Native prints and lofts--just beautiful, sliding doors, decks, sauna and jacuzzi. This incredible response from me, and I don't even like new houses. I think it is not that I don't like new houses, but that I don't like houses without soul. Your basic ranch style has never dreamed of having a soul, and so its ocean view does it no good. Even our house has only a temporary soul--one that we will take with us when we go. That is the house in which I live--remarkable that people can do their living in such houses. (But which is the cause of the resultant disease, and which the symptom?) Do houses reflect the people who live there or do people start to reflect the houses? It must be a symbiotic relationship--they feed their deadness and soul-lessness to each other. As for me and my house...well, we'll be built when we're ready--pretty soon, not now.

1112. Today I                                                                                     February 3, 1980

Today I wore jeans for probably the first time since I went to visit Harold in the summer. I put on a shirt and a sweater my old overalls and my rainproof jacks, and today I off I went. My old high school friend and I walked down the muddy path that used to be a railway line, we had to work out plots to get around all of the knee-deep, still ice-frosted puddles, or rather pools, the permanence of which they appear to have acquired. Today I went down the path, Lochside Trail they call it, for the first time in years, and the buildings are creeping farther and farther in. They will eventually met in the middle I suppose, and the only place to go will be the hills beyond the reservoir, above the cemetery [1]. Then there will be too many people there, though some will be deterred by the steepness of the path and those buzzing motorbikes, which deter me too. Where will I go then? I suppose I will have to go to the Charlottes, where all the paths overgrow in a matter of a season because of all the rain that never ends (and thus has no need to begin).
     Today I walked in the rain, and the rain began its walk in me. I will cut myself and rain will pour out from my veins. Rain has softened my hair and that hard part of me. Rain can wash away things if you let it in carefully.

1113. Morning without pain                                                                              February 4, 1980

I got up at 6 this morning and it didn't hurt. In fact it felt good, and energetic, frosty and time to move and think, and not to mind working. I had a good sleep, and just the right amount. A cold drive to Gillain, but not an achy one with need of more sleep. It makes quite a difference, this morning without pain. It made quite a difference, that walk yesterday that eased my collapse last night. I feel like the rain settled into me to make me live.


1. Nope; they're gone, too.

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