Les Semaines

August 20, 2006

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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Ever So Late Catch Up

Sorry to have fallen off the face of the earth for so long. I found that the workshop utterly absorbed all my energy this year. I'm glad I wasn't trying to do the Write-a-thon since I couldn't even keep this journal up, though I did keep working on the revisions during the workshop--just very slowly. I've been playing a weird kind of catch up since then, though I haven't at all caught up with anything. My email inbox is at 471, which is a big improvement, believe me. It had climbed to nearly 600 messages, so I had been trying desperately to whittle that number down when my mail program crashed and it resurrected enough messages to bring it well over 800 messages. Now, that was ugly.

I've been working on my novel nearly daily since the workshop, whittling it down word by word. Slow going, but I'm enjoying it. The problem is that I don't think it's going to wind up a huge amount shorter. Just tighter, which is not a small thing.

The Clarion West workshop has been over for three weeks now. It was a wonderful year, with a great group of students. I miss them.

I wrote a little about Paul Park's week in my last entry so long ago. Maureen McHugh was a great follow up to Paul Park's week. She's a terrific critiquer and a delightful person. Ian MacLeod followed her, and he turned out to be inspirational, too. Nalo Hopkinson did the fourth week and she's always wonderful. Ellen Datlow was the editor this year--she was an instructor the year that I attended the workshop myself, and I love her. I think she was at her absolute best this year. The sixth and final instructor was Vernor Vinge. He also was a great teacher, and so full of knowledge. He can talk on almost every subject. It was so great how the instructors were all so wonderful and put so much into the workshop, how the students learned so much, and how the whole thing seemed to fall together like pieces of a puzzle. It often works that way, but this year it seemed to particularly well.

It has been a beautiful summer. I'm enjoying being off work and having my time my own. This month always seems far too brief.

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

Listening

Discs from lala.com have been arriving and leaving fast and furious. So much so that after two months we've traded over 200 discs. Unbelievable! Fun, though. Our postman has taken to walking up our steps, saying "la la, la la." Hee.

Discovering a lot of new and rediscovering a lot of old music.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Irène Némeirovsky's Suite Française was written by a woman killed in the concentration camps in World War Two. Mean to be a larger sequence, she died before she could finish all but the first two. The book is about the beginning of the war in France, when the Germans were advancing and the populace hurriedly left Paris and swarmed into the countryside. The second part tells the story of an occupied French village where a company of German soldiers is billeted.

Meg Cabot's YA novel Ready or Not is part of a series where a teenage girl has become the teen rep to the president because she saved his life. Oh, and she's dating his son. Yes, this is far-fetched, but saved by the humorous way the story is told. Still, I'm not inclined to read more.

I stayed up till 3:30 am on Monday morning finishing Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind. This is a unique fantasy tale set in 1950s Barcelona (the author is from Spain). Here a young boy discovers a novel that his life starts to bear a strange relation to. While this was a little long and the ending could have had a little more impact, I found much of this quite wonderful, and as I said I had trouble putting it down.

Cheryl Mendelson's Morningside Heights is a mainstream novel about a family and their troubles once they discover that the mother of the family is pregnant again and they have outgrown their Manhattan apartment and can't afford to find a larger place in their neighbourhood. How this works out and how the relationship between two of their friends works out is...highly convenient. While I was interested in the characters, I just didn't believe this.

Octavia Butler's Fledgling was outstanding and utterly captivating, despite being one vampire novel among many. The conception was unique, more science fiction than fantasy, and the situation and the society and characters within them are fascinating. I loved this, and I'm so sad that Octavia won't write the follow-up that she said was in the back of her mind before she died.

William Mayne's children's novel, The Worm in the Well is a fractured, emotional fairy tale of old spirits warped into a fabled, real world. Strange and wonderful like so much of his writing.

Tim Pratt's The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl was a fun urban fantasy novel set in Santa Cruz. A coffee house night manager who is also an artist and writer of a comic strip novel featuring the character of Rangergirl starts to find a strange parallel in a hidden room in the basement of the coffee house, and something starts whispering to her from there. Both a romp and a novel with some depth.

I first thought Alison Croggan's YA fantasy novel, The Naming, was going to be more derivative than it turned out to be. Yes, the is the first of a trilogy set in a non-technological society with magic, and yes there is a special child destined for greater things (she has a world to save), but as this novel went on I found myself enjoying it more and more, which is usually the opposite with novels of this pattern. There are moments of wonderful inventiveness here, and the characters grew more and more engaging as I got to know them more. I had to order the sequels.

Holly Phillips' SF/fantasy novel, The Burning Girl is a unique, poetic tale--one of those novels you know could only have been written by this particular author and no other. The main character has amnesia and a recurring high fever, and we are close to her perceptions so frequently I was as puzzled as she about what was going on, but the fuzziness became more focused as both she and I learned more. This is a fascinating novel about alien encounters of various kinds. Recommended.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

An old prose poem/short story of mine, "Furious" appears onsite at Nox: An Anthology of Dark Poets Against Abuse. "Furious" is on page 8.

Slow writing these weeks, with writing sessions that frequently ended up as naps. I finished on the scene breakdown for the first part of Gypsy Davey. It certainly helped me learn a lot about the novel, but not enough that I'm going to spend the time to do that for the other two sections. It was a useful exercise, just not that productive and took a hell of a lot of time. Right now I'm doing a more front line tightening.

I've also done a little on the new novel, though it's really Gypsy Davey that I'm focusing on.

I got the She Says: Poems Selected and New CD out of the door early in July. Hooray! I'm not sure on the production timetable, but hope to see it in press this fall.

My poems came out in The Malahat Review and Full Unit Hookup, and I've had a couple of poetry rejections. This is a bad time of year to send this out, so I'll be waiting until September to do that.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Still on hiatus.

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