Les Semaines

June 14, 2009

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


Beware! Write-a-thon!

I look up and we're already halfway through June and the Clarion West Workshop starts in a week. As does the Write-a-thon (eek!), which I have probably unwisely-for-my-stress-level signed up for. In hopes it will help get me out of the novel-slashing doldrums. Here's my page where I have fun answering their questions and you can even see a wee snippet of the novel-in-distress.

The write-a-thon works just like a walk-a-thon, except I write. The monetary pledges go to Clarion West, to help support workshop expenses, student scholarships, and keep the organization's head above water in these tough times.

Anyone who pledges at least $6 to support my writing habit will get a copy of my reading CD, She Says: Poems Selected and New which you are welcome to consider as a reward or a punishment, as you wish. I have heard CDs make marginally useful coasters. They also are very shiny if you hang them in your window.

My goal is to spend at least one hour a day internet-free and writing. An hour doesn't sound like much, but I know that there will be many days during the workshop when finding the hour will be difficult. The internet-free part is going to hurt, but should mean that I get a little more done. That would be nice. Because this project is currently going slower than moles' asses, I tell you.

So please check out my page. Pledge if you can. You can PayPal a pledge from my page, or if you'd rather not PayPal, you can send me an email (my first name at zipcon.com) to let me know what your pledge is ($6 would be terrific—that's only a $1 a week, and if enough people do it, that adds up. Of course, if you can spare more, that's great). And if you want to join in and make your own writing challenge, money aside, that's even better, because one of the best things the write-a-thon does is challenge people to write.

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


This has officially been a listening-to-bunch-of-things-and-nothing-in-particular time. I am still listening to tUnE-YaRdS's BiRdBrAiNs and Carina Round's ep whenever I can. I just can't seem to hear them enough.

last week's listening § next week's listening


China Miéville's new police procedural, The City and the City is being hailed as his best book yet. It certainly is his best plotted and probably his best resolution of character. I miss the overt monsters and the wild inventiveness a little, but this, too, is inventive and clever, and a highly enjoyable read. The milieu is fascinating and I loved how the story unfolded, becoming bigger and bigger.

Joan Aiken's Mansfield Park Revisited continues Jane Austen's tale a few years later. Fanny and Edmund are off to the Caribbean to deal with business matters, leaving Susan behind to look after Lady Bertram, just when the Crawfords return to the area to stir up old family problems.

In Simmone Howell's young adult novel Everything Beautiful a rebellious teen gets sent to Christian camp for a week, where she feels like an outcast, even more out of place than the cute guy who for the first time after an accident has to visit the camp in a wheelchair.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman's Fall of Light is set in the movie world. Opal, who is from a magical family and has the gift of making illusions has become a makeup artist and has fallen in love with the man she makes into a monster every day—and then the monster becomes a little too real. A fun story.

Cylin Busby & John Busby's nonfictional account of The Year We Disappeared: Father-Daughter Memoir is an odd tale, covering a year when policeman John Busby was shot by a local criminal and barely survived, needing painful operations to have his face reconstructed. He tells his half of the tale: the stalled investigation, his anger at frustration at that; while his daughter tells about the effects on his family, knowing that all of them were under threat and how that and their father's injuries turned their daily lives upside down. Interesting slice of life, and a look at something usually shown only as TV drama.

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's anthology of children's short stories, Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales is an enjoyable collection of fairy tale retellings from the villain's point of view. Probably my favourites in here, for their utter richness of re-imagining, are Catherynne Valente's A Delicate Architecture and Kelly Link's "The Cinderella Game", but I suspect that the target age group will have other favourites.

Aprilynne Pike's young adult fantasy novel, Wings is a new take on fairies in the human world. Laurel is adopted, left on her parents' doorstep as a small child. Though she has has a slightly unusual look and diet for a teenager, she has always assumed she's human—that is, until she moves to a new town to attend public school for the first time and starts growing a strange kind of wings. Enjoyable and clearly the start of a series.

Samantha Peale's novel The American Painter Emma Dial is a deep look at the art world and the huge gap between successful and beginning artists. Emma Dial has spent years now as a studio assistance completing paintings for a famous artist who sells his work for large figures, which she hasn't done any of her own work in years. Then along comes iconoclastic artist Philip Cleary, who seems to represent for Emma everything that she wants to be.

last week's reading § next week's reading


It's a struggle right now.

However, I did get a fellowship application completed and submitted, and with Tamar's help recorded three more poems, two of which will appear in Goblin Fruit's next issue and one in the issue after that.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Thursday, June 12, 1997


Rain lighter today—hardly noticeable. Walked through Kelso. Went to the Abbey.

Kelso AbbeyKelso Abbey. Shouldn't everyone town have one? I think so.


Not much left there—the empty bottom half of a sandstone sarcophagus. Dark somehow. A newly added part hidden around the side. Dark passageways blocked off.

Then shopped a while—Dad bought me a shooting stick(!!) then to a bookstore, where we got some prints and books.

Then to Jedburgh.

Jedburgh AbbeyJedburgh Abbey.


Impressive ruins well-displayed with demonstration gardens with plants used in medieval times—wonderful smell of roses. And we could climb up a stair (found some empty eggshells) across a walkway then down again. At the bottom a reused Roman-inscribed stone was part of the ceiling. One doorway Victorian reconstruction. In the display area before you enter the abbey, there were some artifacts—a carved comb, a pendant with a bird figure. Nice arches, lovely coloured stone.

Then drive down narrow ways to Hermitage Castle, which at one time belonged to Mary Queen of Scot's third husband (she visited him there before her second husband died.)

Hermitage CastleThe forbidding Hermitage Castle.


Big and square, lovely waters beside it, but inside not all that much of interest. A nasty pit for a prison, fireplace holes, a cauldron hole. Couldn't get much of a feel for anything. Bleak. Dark. [Funny, in hindsight I recall finding the bleakness dire. Hmm.]

Then drive to Hawick to Elm House Hotel. Dinner. Wrote postcards.

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