what I'm thinking and doing

what I'm listening to

what I'm reading

what I'm writing

retrospective: old journal

Email comments, questions, and complaints to neile@sff.net §

Neile's main page

people have wandered through this week with me




















Les Semaines



Sunday Night in March

I'm sitting here with my laptop in front of the TV, Sophia purring against my hip, watching the Academy Awards, wondering where my week went. I'm not going to go on about the war, because everyone knows (and those who don't will never know) but it's hard to think of much else.

So I'm watching an awards show. Which I don't think I've done in 20 years. And I'm not sure why, but it's about all I feel like doing.

I certainly don't have much to say for myself. If anything to say for myself.

Apparently my job is relatively secure despite the danger the programs I now run are in. There have been meetings and all kinds of discussions and we'll see what happens. I'll keep you posted, okay? But my worklife is likely to be interesting in the near future. Which is fine with me--I could use a reinvigoration. (Couldn't we all?) In the meantime I feel like I need to finish everything now. Now.

Today Les and I had another look at the sorority where Clarion West is going to be held this summer. It's a wonderful building, and I think it's going to be amazing to be there--I really do think it's going to work, and be a wonderful place for the workshop and the writers. It's an old building (well, part is newer) and full of all kinds of odd corners. None of the students' rooms are the same.

Then I came home and slept because that was what I needed to do.

Now I'm watching a movie with Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter as firefighting pilots. And other ways of staying away from the news.

Take care, everyone.


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



Mostly the news, alas.

last week's listening § next week's listening



Kate Horsley's Confessions of a Pagan Nun is the story of a woman caught between the druidic and the Christian traditions. She is a scribe in a nunnery, and use the materials at hand to write down the story of her life, while also recounting the current events around her. I found this--at least until the end--a little less interesting than it ought to have been, given how interested I am in the early church and in pagan traditions. Her story just wasn't very captivating, especially in comparison with Frederick Beuchner's masterful, amusing Godric; however, I'm glad I stuck with it because I quite liked the end. Too bad she couldn't imbue the entire, short novel with the same energy.

City of the Beasts is Isabel Allende's first novel for children. It is the story of a young American boy whose mother is deathly ill with cancer, and so he goes on a trip to the upper Amazon with his irascible grandmother. There they meet up with a team to do an International Geographic exploration in an area where a huge killing beast has been rumoured. One of the tour brings along his daughter, and the two youths are taken away by members of a tribe into their pristine jungle. It's hard to say much more without spoilers. I really enjoyed this--found it inventive and delightful.

Holly Black's Tithe is the story of a young girl, daughter of a would-be musician who has been dragged around all her life from pillar to post. As a child she had had faerie friends and now as a young adult strange things start to happen to her. She charms a friend's boyfriend without meaning to. She meets a wounded knight in a roadside forest. Then she finds out she is not who she thought she was--and that she is meant to be a tithe to the queen of the unseelie faery court. I found this a wonderfully enjoyable novel.

Charles de Lint's most recent book of short stories, Tapping The Dream Tree is another series of stories about his fictional city, Newford, and its environs and especially its residents, who frequently have brushes with magic. Enchanting.

last week's reading § next week's reading



Not such a dramatic week in writing as last week. May I be grateful to the fates? I am. Slow forward motion. That's all. That's enough.

last week's writing § next week's writing


Retrospective: old journal

January - March 1989

1554. Janet again
January 12, 1989

Janet green and wild
for forest skirt tipped
above her knee
wades through brambles
in the seed-dusted air
August dry and flying,
burrs and pods crackle
in her hair falling out
of its snood. The leaves
on the hedges are tangled
and dry as insect's shed
skin, brown as the air
and sun in the abandoned garden
How could she resist
th scent of the one
perfect dew-scented rose
double and living, red
as spring, as the
tongue she touches to its
petals, pulling it free. [1]

1555. The last of January
January 29, 1989

Rain outside, as though this were the coast
as thought this were someplace I would
want to be. Ran and grey and the only
warmth inside. A fight with Jim
about the trip to England I'm not taking
(too late), and he's off at SLIS and late.
Another weekend wasted--I've read
and slept lots--nibbled at my story again
made laps for Maddy and hated myself
enough but it's after five and Sunday
and all I've done is organized some papers
and sewed two buttonholes and gotten
upset over the impossible. Called Susan
for a second, though.
     I hope this isn't the only way
           I'm going to live.

1556. To Chronicle some forward motion
February 9, 1989

Today Stan Dragland called me at work to say he liked what I send him (the first chapter of BN) and that he would be pleased to act as a referee [2], and that he would like to see more. He also said that his wife recognized my name and went to the bookshelf and pulled out my book (someone I haven't met who owns a copy!) He was complementary about that, too. Very encouraging--he is the first person from outside my circle of friends to read any of it.
     I called Robin Tuesday night and he said he would help with both. I have to get some things ready to send him. So that's the first grant for which the deadline is three weeks away.
     The other grant I have another month extra to prepare. I sent poems two weeks ago to Don McKay and he called me back the same day--very complimentary and enthusiastic and wanted to buy a copy of the book I had sent with the poem (I said to keep it, of course), I found that very encouraging. Of course, Bronwen Wallace agree several months ago (actually, she volunteered) so I feel really positive about my chances and about these people.
     Strange, though, when I saw Don McKay at the reading a week after I felt really shy about talking to him. I feel only a little bit a poet because so much of the time I am the humble office worker. With luck and help from these generous people maybe that will change [3].

1557. Sarton translating Sturrock quoting Ponget
February 9, 1989

"The greatest difficulty when one writes one's journal, says Monsieur Songe, is to forget that one does not write it for others, or rather not to forget that one writes it for oneself, or rather to forget that one does not write it for a time when one will have become someone else, or rather not to forget that one is someone else in writing it, or rather not to forget that its only interest must be for oneself immediately, which si to say for someone who does not exist since one is someone else as soon as one begins to write."

1558. Easter
March 26, 1989

Merwin "...Punctuation is there as a kind of manners in prose, articulating prose meaning, but it doesn't necessarily articulate the meaning of this kind of verse. I saw that if I could use the movement of verse itself and the movement of the line--the actual weight of the language as it moved--to do the punctuation, I would both strengthen the texture of the experience of the poem and also make clear its distinction from other kinds of writing. One would be paying attention to it in those terms. I also notice something else right away. Punctuation as I looked at it after that seemed to staple the poem to the page, but if I took those staples out the poem lifted itself right up off the page. A poem then had a sense of integrity and liberation that it did not have before. In a sense that made it a late echo of an oral tradition. All this gave the poetry new rules, a new way of being, and I haven't really changed enough to want to give that up."


1. This is the start of the poem that became "Tam Lin" in Blood Memory, as referenced in last week's entry, where I made my first failed attempt at this poem.

2. I was about to make my first application for a Canada Council grant, and at that time they required referees, and I hardly knew anyone appropriate, so I went around asking favours of strangers. I was brave then. The first one I talk about was for the children's novel and the second for poetry.

3. Hmm. Now I am a cranky office worker. Does that count?

last week's old journal § next week's old journal

Last Week § Les Semaines index § Next Week