Les Semaines

July 15, 2007

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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Fourth Week of Clarion West 2007

Wonderful to have Kelley Eskridge teach this week. She's intense and focused, and has long been a friend to the workshop, so I was delighted that we had invited her to teach. She gave the students a lot of great information and attentive critiques. It seemed like a great week from my end of things. I especially enjoyed the reading and the Q&A session afterwards. The readings this year have been especially wonderful.

The weather, though, was some distracting, with record-making heat on Wednesday. The sorority house really holds the heat entirely too well. I felt so bad for the students, because opening all the windows to let the breeze in (I was so grateful that it stayed moving throughout the heat) meant letting in all the frat boy noise.

The Friday night party was especially welcome as the house we were at had a pool and a group of the students made lovely mermaids. Saturday was a lovely low-key party at the Bear's. Great chance to cool off and relax.

This week our cats all have fleas. Isn't that lovely? We only saw two (one alive, one dead after treating the cats with Advantage). And they seem to have left the scene of the crime (meaning that when I comb the cats now I don't find any flea dirt), but I somehow feel that indoor cats should be immune. Well, I should just be happy they've gone away. Bye! Flee fleas!

Have to admit that I find myself suspiciously itchy just at the thought of fleas.

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

Listening

Jim has been on a wee Rose Chronicles bing.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Linda Hogan's The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir weaves together strands of native and personal history to talk about the injuries done to the world, her people, and her person by various forces, but also talks about healing, depth, and love.

Kim Addonizio's mainstream novel, My Dreams Out in the Street, follows the lives of three characters: a young, currently homeless woman, the husband she's lost track of, and a private investigator who begins to feel sorry and be attracted to her. The woman's life is complicated by her poverty, the difficulties of life on the street and the first nearly impossible steps to find a safe place, and all the temptations and escapes that surround such a life. A extremely realistic and believable novel, it still manages to be readable and hopeful. Quite a feat.

Mal Peet's novel Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal is listed as a young adult novel, but there really is no particular reason why, and the main situation it follows, that of two men and the woman they love in the Dutch Resistance during the Second World War is an adult tale. However, the secondary story is that of a young woman named after one of the agents. Her grandfather, who suggested her name, has died, leaving her a mysterious box of clues to the past. This is a wonderful, engrossing novel, and it's easy to see why it has already won a major award.

I was so tired when I read Holly Black's young adult fantasy, Ironside, that it impacted my enjoyment of the novel, which is a pity because I've loved her previous novels. This is a follow-up to Tithe so I can't say too much without spoilers for Tithe, but it's all about teenagers and the seelie and unseelie courts and the complications and wily faeries attached to same. Still, even for the exhausted this was a fun read. I look forward to re-reading sometime when I can get more out of it.

Diana Wynne Jones' The Game is a short young adult fantasy novel about a young girl who has been strictly brought up by her grandparents who suddenly is exiled to the custody of her aunts and cousins, and her cousins play the strangest game. Oddly enough, she is very good at it, which dramatically complicates her life. Delightful and original in the way only Diana Wynne Jones can be. She's a treasure.

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Writing

Dear Write-a-thon sponsors & supporters:

This was a rough week as the workshop has been busy busy busy and I keep hitting the wall of exhaustion, and the transition from revising to writing was a tough one to make.

I spent a lot of time trying to decide what the answer to the question I was left with last week would be, and then I realized that the person who has asked the question didn't really want to know the answer, so she stopped the person who would have answered. While that solved that one problem it didn't give me any forward momentum so cranking out the sentences has been slow and difficult. I feel like I'm in the bottom of a pit, but eventually I found a handhold, then a foothold and now I'm one step up toward getting out of there, and now I believe that I will manage to climb out.

The idea for this week's poem came to me early. It's a silly one, but I had fun writing the poem. One of the first poems I wrote for this new collection was about Dsonoqua, the Wild Woman of the Woods. She's the boogey(wo)man that the First Peoples used to keep their children from getting lost in the woods. That first poem took her pretty seriously. But it occurred to me that if I could bring True Thomas to B.C. I could send Dsonoqua to the Outer Hebrides and see what happened to her there. She had a good trip, but was happy to be home.

.....

In other news, the Canada Council sent me the check for the first half of my grant. Wow. The biggest check I've ever made from my writing! Bigger than most novel advances, that's for sure. I feel so, so lucky.

Two-thirds the way through the write-a-thon (and the workshop) already. Thank you again for your support! I really appreciate it as I climb out of the pit.

--Neile

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

1655. Hail and rain
November 8, 1992

Rain, hail and a spit of sun
The amber leaves falling, rain
welling on the tips like sap/life
but despite the rain the leaves
are dry as dust as the winter
that's falling, dry as passion
rich as lust.

1656. Why we no longer weep

Oh, but we still cry, cry
and rage, tear against pain
against doubt, hate our history
hate the tale it tells about
our lives, rage and wail.
But weeping implies sorrow
and we are never sad. We're
too alive for that. Too alive
and bitter for all that we may
look soft and weet. Any man
who has bitten into us
will attest to that for now
his very flesh has turned to gall.
We did that. And still we won't sorrow
for him or any other who sought
to win us. We'll love them till
their marrows ache with it
till lust softens our bones.

1657. Black Jack Davey
April 3, 1993

Listening to June Tabor in concert tonight and got an idea for a story.

--starting with the girl in the forest meeting Davey

--she's gone to the city--a whore?--and meets him again

--meets him later on her own turf

--meets him later when she's married & runs with him

[well, that's not the plot of the novel but it's where it started. That long ago. wow.]

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