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Les Semaines

02.06.09

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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Weakly Weekly

So if last week was the week that never was, this should have been the week that was, but now it has gone by in an even deeper blur. You see, I've been trying to do that desperate thing called catching up. Clarion is now only two weeks away and there are lots of little details to take care of. Lists and lists of them.

I spent much of this week frantically reading stories for the workshop this Sunday (and making inadequate notes about my comments on the stories). And doing a racing edit of my mother's biography of Charles Newcombe, which I faxed back to her each morning (well, Jim did it once). Because she needs it before she leaves on a trip and she gave it to me in April to edit for her and once Clarion starts I'd never manage to get on it. So it's done.

A Clarion West workshop committee meeting in Wednesday night and I came out to my car--worse, Jim's car--drenched in birdshit. I began to think the universe was telling me something, but washed it off once I got home, and to hell with the universe. Don't park under telephone wires!

Today was the fiction workshop, for which I give again grateful thanks. I hate having stuff to do on a Sunday, but this group is so great.

And today was so beautiful--a perfect day. Sunny and clear, and a cool breeze in from the water. And loud music on Jim's cassette player (he let me take his car again, kind soul).

And another academic year is pretty much over--Friday was the last day of classes and now it's just exams, a break, and the start of summer quarter. In three weeks I have my two months off my day job, though of course Clarion eats a month into that. Oh, I have ambitions--both housepainting and writing. We'll see what I manage to do.

Right now I really need to focus on the immediate needs--I have much to accomplish in the next couple of weeks. Do do do.

It's only a writing workshop--how much work can it be? If I only had known what I was getting myself into...,

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

Listening

When Neal was here a couple of weeks ago, I hooked our cassette deck up to my computer to make CD-Rs of our tapes since we rarely listen to tapes anymore. Veda Hille's songs about people and buildings on cd sounds like a dream. She says it's such a young collection of songs, but I still love them. Yay. Susan James' Life Between Two Worlds. Willow's first tape. Rediscovering them is wonderful.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

William Nicholson's Slaves of the Mastery is the second in his The Wind on Fire trilogy, which began with The Wind Singer (see my February 11, 2001 entry for comments). While second novels in trilogies are frequently weaker than the first, this was an exception. The story beings when the people of Aramanth are suddenly invaded by soldiers from a distant land, who destroy their city and take them captive back to their land to become slaves there. The twins Kestrel and Bowman again find themselves at the center of the action, determined that their people will not be slaves. I liked this one quite a bit more than the first, especially in that despite the slightly mythic distance with which the tale is told, the characters began to come alive more than in the first volume, additionally the incidents of this one seemed to follow with some consequence rather than as haphazardly as the first.

Lois Bujold McMaster's Diplomatic Immunity is the most recent in her series of Miles Vorkosigan novels (other volumes are commented on in my July 15, August 19, and August 26, September 16th, September 23, and October 7, 2001 entries). In this, Miles and his wife are returning from their honeymoon, when they are suddenly diverted so Miles can handle a diplomatic standoff at a far outpost of the Quaddies, where, of course, the situation is complex and involved old friend and enemies and allies...and he and his wife in a hurry to get back to Barrayar in time for the replicator-birth of their children. Lots of fun.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Thinking about it, but little time to actually act on the thought.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

September 1983

In which we begin our final year at the University of Montana.

1343. Insomniac
September 24, 1983

Three am.m., ad I'm beginning to have problems sleeping--I mean, I'm still awake, thinking and getting excited about my coming book [Seven Robins]. Imagining it. Worrying about reviews (already?) Wondering how much of a fuss will be made (which of course, I want and don't want). The letter (yesterday's now) said I would have the galleys soon. It's in typsetting now, and so Seven Robins is becoming. O my nerves, o my soul. What will it look like? How strange it will be to actually hold it in my hand. I'm all worried about photographs--crazy, unphotogenic I. Perhaps I should pull a Marilyn Bowering, and have a photograph with my hand in front of my face. It's all so stupid, I can't relax--right now or in front of the lens. Thinking of a title for a poem, ridiculous, The Clark Fork Mystery Theatre." I can't mean it. I hug myself. It's cold but not very. Down the hall my husband sleeps (and talks?) I'm looking at books, half-wanting to write, or else what am I awake at three a.m. for? "The Clark Fork Mystery Theatre." Who is up at these hours? Why do I pretend to be? O piff.

1344. Jim in his room
September 25, 1983

Jim's in his room writing, and for some reason this makes me cross. Both that he can close the door to. A room of one's own. I've got an area, but of course that won't do. I haven't written anything (really) since we've been married.
     Classes begin tomorrow, and I teach in twelve hours. It bothers me that I don't know where yet. O well, I can phone when I get up. Ilona will know. And so begins the Year of the Thesis, which will, hopefully, be a year of excitement and productivity. I want to write something I can get excited about. I re-read my ms last night and despaired--it is so weak, so young. If I had the nerve and the less pride I would withdraw it; it's too late in the process, though. They're typesetting it now. Somewhere in Ontario the book is being typeset. O well, Perhaps it will die the usual death--lack of attention.
     I must get writing, get a poem going for the workshop or else nothing. Drop it all and stop pretending to write. Synthesized nothing music playing over the radio. It's driving me mad, and this is what Jim writes to.
     Just a note--the weather has turned warm again--sunny and clear and wonderful, but the light and air says autumn.

1345. Green Eyebrows
September 25, 1983

My mind brims with vulgar poeticisms. Nothing real--nothing truly felt. As the lingo would put it, nothing honest. Shit. 11:00 pm and this must be an early night or death and Jim's just come up with another first draft. Time to break into poem.
     [Quote from Pound about green eyebrows deleted.]
     The sun has reappeared with an entirely
     different flavour, its light thinner,
     broken by the leaves turning its colour.
     I've decided this walking home from the
     river, from claiming the day for my own.

1346. Hugo
September 28, 1983

Reading The Trout in the Milk, almost all of which is abysmally bad, but the photographs and the sense of Dick's voice brought him back very strongly to me [1]. Strange how I miss his presence, and remember the odd moments I spent with him--the grant signing and arrangements, the book acceptance, where he me showed the seven poems of his (most of which are in Sea Lanes Out). The things that this book get across about him best are his lovableness, his directness in a workshop. I really only knew him when he was burnt out (but writing what is probably his best), and thus far I have been more influence by Robin [2], and yet I miss Dick, wish he could see the book, wish his aura was still around the university. He made a difference and we loved him.

NOTES

1. Richard Hugo, poet and our teacher, had died the year before.

2. Skelton, with whom I studied two years as an undergraduate.

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