Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout


Missing in Action

Again, for much of this week I've been barely managing to keep my head above water--whatever virus slew me a couple of weeks ago hasn't gone away yet, and has turned into cold-like symptoms. Either that or I've managed to catch something new. I swear I'll never boast about not being sick again. This isn't fair, especially when the weather has turned glorious.

And suddenly we're in the throes of making all sorts of plans. An on-again off-again plan to go to Turkey at the end of June is suddenly on again, and we've got all those arrangements to make and we're planning a family trip back east (and sliding a trip to friends in with that) and I've committed to going to World Fantasy Con in Providence in November. Suddenly this is now a travelling year, and I wonder if it will at all be a novel-writing year. It's too early to say it won't be but I'm getting anxious.

Writing in Phonosnout so many years ago about worrying about whether I'd ever have enough energy and drive to be a writer is depressing, because it's what I still worry about 23 years later. It's not the poetry I worry about. I know I'll continue to work on poetry projects and slowly but surely finish them. I'm obviously not racing--I've only just now completed my third manuscript of poems and I've been writing poetry seriously since 1979 or so. This is partly because I'm a perfectionist when it comes to the individual poems, but also because I'm a perfectionist about the collection itself, too, and don't believe in just putting together whatever poems happen to be finished in a vague kind of order and calling it a book as so many people do. I know people who put out books every couple of years with no more unifying thread than it happens to have been the poems they've written in that particular period. For me there has to be something important built in the way the poems interrelate. This makes it slow work.

I know I could crank out passible work if I wanted to, but that's not enough, and so there is a war.

And the fiction. Well. I have one novel that I wrote the first draft of drifting over 10 years. The bulk of it was completed in several months at the end. A couple of years ago there was a publisher interested and I started a major rewrite in preparation for sending it to her, but got stalled out by a trip to Washington, DC, and didn't get back to it, which is just as well as that publisher stopped publishing Young Adult fiction. Then in summer 1993 I wrote about two-thirds of Gypsy Davey, and that unfinished book has haunted me ever since. Six years of its weight in the back of my mind. I went to Clarion to finish it in 1996 (but started writing short fiction). I went to Scotland in June of 1994 to finish the research for it, but couldn't manage to get the going on it again before I went back to work and couldn't find the time. I've started to try to work on it again numerous times, so many now that I'm scared to even try. I've done more stalling on this book now than writing, but I can't give it up and feel like I'm continually learning more about how to write it. So maybe soon I'll just pick it up again and finish the damn thing. In the meantime I work on poetry and the unfinished short fiction that haunts me, too.

The idea of becoming a rock still appeals.

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


I've still be obsessing with the wild and mostly wonderful Balloon Mood by Anja Garbarek. A few new cds arrived, two from Sweden, one from Finland, and a new Annika Bentley ep, leisuretron. Jim has a new Low album, too.

I've been listening to lots of this, but not really focusing on any one in particular other than Balloon Mood, though tonight Jim and I watched a VH-1 show on Marianne Faithfull, which has reminded us how wonderful her early '80s stuff is particularly--Broken English cracked my head open. He's playing our vinyl copy of Dangerous Acquaintances as he does the dishes and I type here and cough. What a wonderful album. Hard to believe she was in the thick of her battle with drugs at the time she did that album. For some reason I had thought she was clean by the time of Broken English. I was very wrong about that.

last week's listening § next week's listening


This week I was obsessed with White Oleander by Janet Fitch. A book like a drug, like a journey--once I started it I had trouble putting it down. One of the best books I've read in a long time. I've been trying to pin down why I liked it so much--I think the combination of excellent writing (though on the first page the number of "like"s started making me nervous that I wouldn't be able to read it--but I got past that quickly) and fascinating characters and many of them. And the author's ability to get you so close to the main character was wonderful, too. I loved it, and it's a book I know I'll re-read. The story follows the child of a dramatic poet when her mother murders her boyfriend and goes to jail and the daughter goes through a series of foster homes. It's both difficult to read because of some of the pain but also enlightening and delightful.

I also read and enjoyed Arthur S. Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha which was an interesting look into an entirely different world. I must say that overall I wasn't too impressed with the plot or characterization, which turned out rather black and white with good people and bad people (the evil geisha who does her best to destroy our heroine and fails) and a tidy romance at the end (how she manages to get the man she wants). What was interesting about this was the detailed knowledge of a world that doesn't exist anymore.

Also reading more of Maggie Furey's series about the character Aurian, thought I must say that book two, Harp of Winds, was quite scattered and less satisfying than Aurian.

Read White Oleander.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Instead of getting very far with either of my two pieces about lady wells (mentioned in last week's writing), I ended up by working on and completing (at least the first serious draft) of a medium-length poem about Threave Castle, in Galloway in southwestern Scotland. It has an interesting history (like nearly all castles--few of them are boring), but is also one of the most picturesque.

Threave Castle, Scotland Here is Threave Castle seen from across one strand of the river--the castle sites on an island in the middle of the River Dee.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

January 1976

195. Missing

196. People Writing

I like it when people write in here. It makes a break and it is interesting. Those were Janine and Mark [see last week's Phonosnout]--both in my Hist'ry class. Hurray f'r hist'ry!

197. Anticipation!!

Going on a field trip today to look at fields! (Hah! Big joke!) actually to look at art. A Civilization class field trip to the Victoria Art Gallery. Thrills. I bet it has two paintings (one by Emily Carr) two sculptures (one by a two-year-old). F'rout field trip. I guess it might be okay. Anticipation!!!1

198. Old Dan

[Quote from a Gordon Lightfoot song about Old Dan omitted.] Probably. Maybe not. I don't make sense--i'm losing my mind. I've written more nonsense in the last while than ever before in my life. What a hassle. I wish i could make sense and be interesting. I'm not even too interesting when i don't make sense. Well, you're the one that blew it. You're reading this. If you want to bore yourself just go ahead. See what i care.

199. 199

I don't feel like writing 199. I'm too impatient. I think i'll jump to 200.

200. Chapter two hundred

Chapter two hundred! Wow! I finally made it. Two hundred chapters of scrawl! F'rout!! Neaters! (copywrite 1976). One hundred more chapters from February and March 1975--then November '75 to January 1976. Took longer this time, but i stopped for months at a time (how could i ever?) Maybe one day i'll fill in on those months. Maybe write some secret chapters and hide them away somewhere. Good idea.

201. Field trip

Neaters. Rest of class took bus, I went with Brent. We got lost--couldn't find the art gallery. Finally made it, though. (Better late than never.) Actually, the most fun part of the day was getting lost. Well, not really lot, we knew where we were, we just couldn't find where we were going to. Brent's an okay guy. Too bad he's so young. I guess most guys are. (Ancient Phono at it again!)

202. Sleepy

I'm sleepy, Phono, but i don't feel like settling down for the night. My cat (Achilles the Heel/Glove/That Cat) is lying at my feet making strange noises while he sleeps. I move and he's instantly awake and purring. Even slightly playful. Strange cat I've got here. Yay 'Chilles. (He's drifting off to sleep again.) He had a stunned look on his furry face, until he stretched and hid it. G'nite Achilles. Purr, yourself. G'nite Phono.

203. Homeroom

Sitting in homeroom, listening to the announcements. Not too exciting. Edina's away in Trail, so it's just Leslie and me. Now i'm in history--half-listening half-Phonoing. So i guess this chapter title isn't Homeroom. It's just school. How depressing. Deadlines. Essays due. Term projects due. Hate it. Never want to do any more work again. (Just wait until i get bored. then i'll want to do it.) Oh well. Council of Europe. C.E.E.C. European union. F'rout one of these Days. F'rout! (Boredom tastes like tired gum.)

204. Often Wonder

I often wonder if i have enough energy to be a writer. If i care enough. I think that's my whole problem.2 Maybe i should become a rock. Rocks don't have to do anything. They can just sit and think. No essays; they don't eat anything so they don't have to earn a living.

205. On Becoming a Rock

Now i have become a rock. Problems--no sense. I can't hear, see, feel, smell, taste. I can think but with no kind of input no stone brain will atrophy. Ingrid's talking to me. I think i'll unbecome a rock and answer her.


1. What a little snark I was! I guess if it wasn't da Vinci or Botticelli or Giotto I thought it wasn't art. Well, anyway, at least I noted Emily Carr even then. Sigh.

2. Scary how things don't change. Hmm...

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