Les Semaines

July 10, 2005

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal

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Third Week of Clarion West 2005

Wednesday was Jim's birthday. I had a lot of fun this year finding him books, a batik shirt, a funky journal, a new silver ring, a mobile with fish and a dolphin all made of old cutlery, new shoes. I probably overdid it a little, but so rarely do I find good gifts for him that I couldn't help it. Hooray for the Fremont Fair!

So we invited some friend over for cake. I was just going to have the cake say "Happy Birthday, Jim" but Zac decided it needed to be more interesting, so it ended up saying ""Eat me. No don't. Do you want to? I don't care. You decide. Never mind!" all in a circle around the perimeter of the cake with "Never mind" in the centre. So very Jim (and Zac). It was a white chocolate strawberry cake from Simply Desserts. Stunningly tasty, though white chocolate isn't something I normally like at all; it just comes together in a great cake. Simply Desserts is the best. Anyway, we had a lot of fun, even though getting ready for it we ran out of time for Jim's birthday dinner and ended up getting take out. Ethiopian, though, and very good.

This week's Clarion West instructor was L. Timmel Duchamp. The students still seem to be hanging in there quite well, learning stuff, writing stuff, critiquing stuff. Not getting enough sleep, of course, there just isn't enough to go around during the workshop not even for me, but most of them are doing okay. Timmi was a low-key but smart and serious instructor (though with flashes of elfin humour) and provoked interesting discussions about the gaps between author's intent ans what the reader receives and how character and detail can direct intent. I also enjoyed her reading from her new novel and now need to read it myself to know the rest of it.

Sure is nice to have Friday and Monday mornings all my own. All I have to do is to remember to check that Kinko's got the day's copy order and I'm golden. Yay.

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

Listening

Rediscovered Kat Terran this week when Jim put her CD on. Even since then it's been playing in my head (and on our player several times). Sadly, her personal website seems to have disappeared and I gather she's no longer doing solo work and is with a band. I think I'm sad about this.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Scott Westerfeld's young adult novel Uglies is et in a post-apocalyptic world where at 16 everyone gets an operation to make them standardly pretty. Tally can hardly wait, as her best friend has already had the operation and moved on to New Pretty Town. She's lonely and can hardly wait to be grown up and have the beauty and fun that the "pretties" have. Then she meets Shay, who knows that there are kids who have run away to avoid the operation and who live out in the countryside. When Shay runs away to join them, Tally is co-opted to follow and betray her an the location of the rest of the group -- or she'll never be pretty. A totally intriguing read. I will devour the next two volumes just as quickly, I'm sure.

Touching Darkness is another young adult novel by Scott Westerfeld, the second in his Midnighters series. I enjoyed this one nearly as much as I did the first in the volume. Here the group of teenagers that are awake and alive during the hour between midnight and 12:01:01 am discover more about the history of this event in their town. The jacket copy claims it's riveting, and indeed it is. I'm glad, though, that I remembered the characters from the previous volume, because there wasn't so much about the main character from the first novel, and she's the one we're closest to.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

I finally got out a draft of the poem I've been working on forever. It was about Stromness, and about missing Jim while travelling, so his birthday Wednesday was the impetus for me to actually crank out a proper draft of it to put in a card to him. He liked it.

I was supposed to give a short reading as part of the launch for the new issue of Litrag that includes my poem, "1773" a collage poem made out of bits from Samuel Johnson's A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland but was feeling under the weather, and with three more weeks of the workshop to go, I bailed. I feel guilty about it but I know it would have killed me to do it, especially after a full day's writing. I have the aches and sneezes for a few days and am working hard on not letting it go any farther.

This week's write-a-thon email:

Dear Write-a-thon sponsors--

Reaching this week's 3,000 word goal came a little more easily as Saturday was a writing retreat day, where Jim and I hole up with two friends and write all day long. We write in 45-minute bursts, then take a 15-minute break, then start again. We take a break for lunch and end at dinner. That sure makes a day go quickly.

Right now the novel stands at 14,684 Word words, so I wrote 4,150 new words. In some ways I'm tempted to pretend I wrote that extra 1,000 words this upcoming week, but now I've told you so I can't get away with it, and besides, at this halfway mark it's nice to have done a little over 10,000 words.

Our heroine is in such a confusing living situation that she can't remember that she's pregnant. Very odd.

Thanks for taking this journey with me.

--Neile

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