Les Semaines


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


World Fantasy Con

Night comes early these days, but the leaves! the leaves! and the light does amazing things to them.

maple tree in autumn lightHere's the maple tree next door that we see from our back deck.


smoke bush in last lightHere's what the sky does jut before the sun sets.


Cons are events with so many things happening that I have trouble remembering what happened when--it all comes together in a blur when I look back on it--already even, while I'm on the plane back home as I type this. And certainly I can remember nothing that happened on the week before I left. I learn more and more how weak my memory is and how quickly overwritten. I swear it's because I'm half in my head all the time, but I need to be more where I am. The good thing is that I rarely feel like I am bored and need entertainment; the bad thing is that events and incidents can be a blur. I see whole patterns of things but the individual incidents create the whole rather than stand out. I think this is why it took me a while to get beyond tracking the shapes of events in my stories to making the individual incidents that stand out. Still.

Anyway, the whole of this event is that it was well-balanced for me. I was staying in a room with Judy from my Clarion West year, a quiet friend of hers, and first Ysa then Liz from this year's Clarion West class. That meant that the room was calm and relatively quiet. But having several members of that class at the Con and having Leslie there meant that we were doing Clarion West business, talking to previous students about instructors, sounding out possible instructors, introducing the students to people (though they're pretty good at introducing themselves, several of them being very social). It meant that I had a livelier time than usual, and once I got into the mode of it I had a lot of fun.

At first I was scattered and scatty--twice I misintroduced someone I've met several times and had I had a second to collect myself would have gotten his name right, but I was distracted and in a hurry and messed up. Anyway, I apologized to him and will apologize again. It's silly. Then I got into the mode and was fine and it was lots of fun. Went to too many parties, raced in an out and here and there, spent a lot of time talking and really enjoying the people. Had a chance to talk to a couple of people I'd been meaning to for a while and had some delightful moments: a quiet talky time with Judy on Monday, delightful quiet talks with Ysa and Liz, some time with Leslie which made me happy since we see so little of each other in Seattle as she's so busy. We were talking with Charles de Lint and he showed us the drawings he'd just received from Charles Vess for a book they're doing together and they were gorgeous--luminous and charming. His work grows on me more and more all the time, and I talked Judy into getting the book he'd done with Neil Gaiman. And I was in line with Jenn who wanted books signed by Neil Gaiman and I hadn't anything for him to sign because my copies of his books were at home, so I had him sign my name tag and told him the funny story of meeting Eileen Gunn and telling her my name and having her think I was saying his name. I really enjoyed my time with Jenn and hope that she did, too. I find her delightful to talk to and was sorry that I monopolized her time mostly talking practical issues rather than music as we did last time, but she didn't seem to mind and I hope she truly didn't. She gave me lots of good practical advice that I really hope to be able to use in the near future, meaning I must finish the novel revision soon. I also feel that I must get some more stories finished soon. And I got permission to submit a story to an invitation-only anthology and when I pitched the concept to the editor found out that it was indeed of interest to her. I hope the story will be. I'm going to have to give it one more run through. I hope it's what I think it is. Fingers crossed. I'm also going to work on a poem as a possible back up--because damn I really want to be in this anthology. It's the right flavour for my novel, to set it off. And there are other aesthetic reasons I want it so much. I hope I hope I hope. It's weird and painful--and also good--to want something so much. It pulls me forward, which I need again after a slight lull starting when I finished the first draft of the story, around the time of my birthday. I think I burned out after first the summer revisions, then creating re/inventory, doing the Canada Council grant and finally the story.

It's a fine thing that the Con left me feeling so ambitious and reinvigorated, back to how I felt during August and September. I did all the things I wanted to do. Had time for people I already love. Strengthened some connections with acquaintances. Got good advice from a kindly professional that I like as a friend. Introduced myself to people I've wanted to meet. Heard some great music. Made some social faux pas (don't want to get too unrealistic about events). Mostly just had one of the best times I've had at a convention.

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


I listened to something this week. Damned if I know what it was.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Only finished one book this week: Masha Hamilton's Staircase of a Thousand Steps. This is the story of a family in a small Palestinean town just before the 1967 war. There is a prophetic grandfather, an outcast midwife, a rebellious mother, a rigid father, a confused young daughter on the brink of understanding more about the world. The grandmother's grave has become a shrine for the women of the community and the men gather beneath a mulberry tree called Moses' Finger. We know the daughter is going to be moved to the U.S. She can share memories of the past. All this tangles into an interesting tale that I liked quite a lot--an interesting glimpse into another culture and a touch of mysticism. Unfortunately, the mysticism never really goes anywhere.

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See above

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

March 1986

1454. March
March 2-3, 1986

Recovering from February, which meant flu and fever and my wounded hand--which a stray cat attacked while I was trying to carry him out of the apartment. Jim's back from his five-day stint in Great Falls, which I think he really enjoyed despite the sleazy hotel and being alone there. It's been a strange week alone, disorientated because of just recovering from the flu, Jim gone, my hand swollen and hurting, and now we rejoin the broken pattern, everything almost back to normal. Almost. I still can't write easily. This is the first writing I've done that was more than a short message or writing a cheque to pay a bill. A little messy, but recognizable.
     I'm almost sleepy, but not quite enough. Jim is sighing from the bed, trying to get into sleep to get up and resume his regular working life tomorrow. It must be hard--harder than me coming back to my easy half-time after my fever.
     I want to really come back into myself again, with non eo f this waffling about and restlessness that doesn't get me anywhere. It's the usual that I am restless to work and yet don't want to expend the energy it takes to get work done. I need to explore more, even from where I am I can do that. It's possible. And then again, in three weeks I'm going home with Bette and Georgia, which will be an experience. [1]

1455. Midfire
March 3, 1986

A strong flame from the candle
and I'm full of the urge to forecast.
And what do I see, destruction
by flame, flood, and prophecy.
There is no truth but that
found in the black heart of the
streets of the empty-throated town
swallowing, swallowing.
Planes ride in from the east
like the times roaring, each one
a gasp from the mountains, moving on
out of hearing to stumble over
into the sea. The nightmare of ladders,
rising, then bursting into flame
and crumbling over our heads.
How we have to avoid these disasters
and keep running home, even if
the trees there too are on fire.
And what do we do with the metal
that falls through our roofs
like spears of lead, how to ignore
or create them? We're running
out of time and theories here on
the plains. Useless as animals'
bad dreams we can't enter
or enter badly like soldiers
in hobnail boots, goosestepping
soldiers. This is all a tale
into midnight running over
the edge of the cup, the
abundant pouring into
another brief day. [2]

1456. Fever
March 4, 1986

You keep turning over in our the bed,
sweat a film over your face as
though you're sealed in plastic
your heavy breath trying to break
through, break through
and the rush of air as you
succeed and sign and turn
again. I'm sitting watching
you breathe, dreams racing
across your face and I see
them and make certain
they let you breathe. It's
not that I worry for your
life it's just that now with
something foreign in your blood
I watch to see what becomes
of you what becomes you
in this dream half alien-made.
Not dangerous but threatening
like what takes over your
face when I say I'm leaving
and you say pack. [3]

1457. March update
March 16, 1986

Another quiet Sunday afternoon in March, and Jim's locked in his study with books and is planning to write. I can't decide what I'm going to do--if I'll try to write, revise, dance, sew, or sing (it'll have to be quietly, so as not to disturb Jim). I'd like to write, of course, but that may not be possible
     Bryony's Needle got torn back down to its first paragraph and I have begun to rebuild it. I hope that this deal with Christina to send each other whatever we have done on our books in that month will help push me a bit because I really do want to write this. I think the thing that stops me most if the fear that I can't write it. I don't want to find out that I'm not capable of it. So just do it.
     I've bot a mass of poems to transmute into gold. I fear not being capable of that either. I shouldn't be surprised I'm not writing well, because basically I haven't even been reading well. So now I'm going to start The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, and read a little of Mitchell's selected translations of Rilke (translations of selected Rilke?)
     Later: Worked more on BN, and am finally beginning to like what I'm doing. UP to the third page! I want to send what I've got to Christina so I've got to work as much and as often as I can. I spend a lot of time avoiding it, but it's then that I'm thinking things out and working out parts of the plot and fussing over the details--should Bryer wear grey? [4]


1. A trip that never happened.

2. Much revised, though with whole bits of this intact, this poem now resides in Spells for Clear Vision.

3. Another poem that went nowhere. I do still like the end, though.

4. Never have finished my revisions of this novel, either. Though I did write it to its end.

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