So now my story has a new title, and I've added a sentence and changed another so that I feel the title is appropriate for the whole story, and now ... now the anxiety is setting in. See, the problem is that this is a story I was able to write and revise in under a week. Then it sold. Then I re-read it. I almost always ignore a story for about a week before re-reading it to give myself some mental distance. Then I can spot all the quirks in the prose, the paragraphs where I use the same word over and over again, lines that just don't flow right, etc. But now the story's gone and I am still spotting those bits, and for about the past three days it's taken some considerable willpower to keep from emailing Julie in a semi-panic to beg to be allowed to fix all those things.
But I am not going to do that. Not only is it unnecessary, I think it would border on disrespectful. Julie has bought the story and she is editing it. She does not need me trying to jump back into the editing process. So I just need to take a deep breath and let it go. Trust thy editor.
It will help, I think, that I'm taking off for the weekend. I'm going to visit my cottage and go see some friends perform in a play and sleep a lot. And I'm not going to take my computer. So, for the next few days there will be no email or blogging or writing or endless games of solitaire. I am giving my poor carpy arms a total rest, in the hope that when I return I'll be ready to write. Deadline for the Asimov Award is approaching fast, and I have a lot of work to do before I'll have my submissions ready.
I am so very tired at this moment. And, surprisingly, it's not due to the fact that I was up at 1:30 last night, but because I was still awake at 4:00 AM. And my alarm goes at 7:00. This was not because of any (more) foolishness on my part but rather ... some unavoidable circumstances, let's say that. Add to that the constant downpour and the crazy trip to Bakka that I took during rush hour, I feel about ready to keel over. But this was my last day of class until January, and I got my exam handed in on time and there's lots of time until anything else is due from me so I can just take a while to relax and sleep and not feel guilty. I only wish I had some pie.
Done. Just thought I'd like to get a time stamp on that. Yep, exam's finished and printed out, muffins have been made and eaten, and I finally ran out of distractions.
And, thankfully, I can now see exactly what I need to do for the next little while. Tomorrow's my last day of class, and I only have one more exam to worry about, another take-home that's not due until Decemeber 14. (So we know what I'm doing on the 13th, yes?) Other than that, I have a lot of reading that I'd like to do so I don't get swamped come January, some stories to write, and some Christmas presents to make/buy. This is going to be the year in which I get almost everyone books for Christmas. I say "almost" because someone had to get a job with the best bookstore in the city, but no matter. I am smart and resourceful ... and very tired. Time for sleep, I think.
Motivation is a serious issue with me today. As in, I don't have any. I got up nice and early this morning so I could spend the day working on this lovely take-home exam that I have sitting beside me. It's not a big deal, really, a piddly few pages to plan and write, but it's difficult to find things that I'd like to do less. So far, I've prefered to take in the garbage cans and recycling bins, wash a stack of dishes and fold some laundry instead of writing this thing.
"This is important," I tell myself.
"Yep," I reply, examining my nails. "Sure is, sweetie."
"Stop that. I'm serious. This is important and needs to be done. You have to hand this in tomorrow morning! You've barely even written an outline! Time is flying away, here!"
"Ooh," I say, suppressing a yawn. "Scary. Really. Say, can you pass me the chips?"
Course, maybe I have bigger problems to deal with. Like the way I talk to myself. It deserves some thought. ("Think what you like, dahlin', but eat more snacks while you're at it.")
The story formerly known as "Peak of the Ocean" has officially gained a new title. I sent the short list to Julie last night, and she agreed with the one I'd said was my favourite: "A Prayer of Salt and Sand." I have to do a little bit of tweaking to the last scene to make this title really work for me, but I'm up to the challenge.
Huge thanks go to Timprov and M'ris who helped me with title suggestions on a tight deadline. (When all three of us came up with a title that involved salt and sand, I took it as a sign. Clearly, we are all genuises.)
Woke up this morning to discover that it had snowed. Everything is covered with a layer of white a few centimeters thick, and large white flakes are still drifting down. Even though it's expected for this time of year, the sudden sight of snow was enough to make me gasp.
Well, I knew that this week was going to suck. But knowing and experiencing are two very different things. Blech, is what I say.
Yesterday I spent the day madly typing up an assignment that's due tomorrow, and desperately trying to read the books that I need to have read for this week. Didn't finish the assigment and so I've been working on it today, too. And then I have a day or so to write that exam ... Blech. And all this typing is murder on carpy arms, let me tell you. I'm doing my best to keep it out of my wrists and elbows (with some success), but am fighting a losing battle against the muscles in my lower arm.
I say to my arms the same thing that I say to my computer: just one more week, that's all I ask.
(Course, I'm really lying to the both of them. I have things I still need to write after this week of classes, including another exam and that short story. But shhh, don't tell them that.)
Also, it's raining today, and having finished the box of Rice Krispies and discovered that we were down to one roll of toilet paper, a grocery shopping trip was required. Avoided the nasty No Frills on Bloor and went instead to the fancy-shmancy Loblaws to shop with the upper-class housewives who so enjoying giving two 22-year-old students the stink eye. It's kind of funny, actually.
I've also received some excellent title recommendations for the story formerly known as Peak of the Ocean, and hope to send a list of the top few to Julie this evening. And I ate some pie. That was good. So it's not all pain and rain and ruin, I suppose; it just feels that way sometimes.
So my computer just seized up, making a truly awful grinding noise. The screen then went blue, but it was not the Blue Screen of Death that I'm used to. Dumping physical memory, it said, and then churned and clattered away for a while, and then shut itself down. I don't know what it means, but it can't be good.
I read Marissa's latest published short story, "Taste of Blood and Bubble Gum," a week or so ago and really enjoyed it, so I thought I'd pass on the goodness. It's one of those where the ending makes you re-evaluate everything that came before, something I enjoy muchly.
Sarah has a new Kesh story up on her website, and the first one is still online too for a very short time. Sarah's right--they're like reading anime. Very quirky, funny anime at that. And having begged other stories out of her, I can tell you that story #3 is hilarious.
Also found my copies of LCRW waiting for me, and they look spectacularly fantastic. Oh, perfect-bound issue, how I love you! ... Ahem. Anyway, I've only read two stories so far (other than mine, but I don't think that counts); E.L. Chen's "White Rabbit Triptych" grabbed me right from the first sentence, and Gavin Grant's essay "Home and Security" is lovely in a very not-lovely way.
And another of my friends has sold reprint rights to one of her stories to a Best of the Year anthology (and rightfully so--this story almost had me in tears in the middle of a cafeteria) though I don't know if she'd want me to announce it here. So I'll just post a more general WOOHOO! and leave it at that for now.
I know! "Stranger in a Strange Land"! No one's used that title yet, right?
I received an email from Julie to let me know that I don't need to do any revisions on "Peak of the Ocean." I am ... well, bewildered is a good word, I think. Happy, too, but definitely bewildered. In fact, the only change that she's requested is that the title change. This is not a required change, but I agree with her reasoning, actually, and so am trying to figure out a new title. An island or two may need to be renamed, too, as I'm skirting a little too close to the edge of unintentional punning. I swear, sometimes I feel like my subconscious is playing jokes on me.
So I'm currently sitting here with the story file open and bits of paper scattered about me upon which are written various relevant words, phrases and images. So far the best I've been able to come up with is "The Shape of Sacrifice", which may be a bit too close to Mindy Klasky's Season of Sacrifice for comfort. I'm not sure.
At one point I happily hit upon "Faith of the Fallen." It took me a few minutes until conscious brain said to subconscious brain, "Um, hey, isn't that a Terry Goodkind novel?" Subconscious brain laughed at me, and scurried away to see what other good jokes it could come up with. Conscious brain told unconscious brain that it sucked, and then I went to bed.
All the delicious cupcakes are gone. Somehow, Carly and I managed to eat all 24 cupcakes in about four days. This takes dedication, my friends, and a craving for all things chocolate. Ah, cupcakes, how I will miss you. But never fear, I will make more if only to use up the half a can of icing that's sitting in the fridge. Because if I don't ... well, that can of icing is going to be eaten one way or another, and though I am happy with being the person who ate a dozen cupcakes I don't want to be the person eating spoonfuls of icing from a can, curled up in pajamas with a knitted blanket watching reruns of The O.C. (Why? Because it could happen too easily, that's why!)
It's funny how good news can do a lot to help banish the heaviness that is November. Course, the weather helps too, I think. Yesterday it was actually sunny for the first time in quite a while. Today it's sunny, too, and about 12 degrees C. My window is open and I feel like lying down on the floor to try and absorb all the gorgeous light that I can.
Generally, this has been one kick-ass month for me as an author. Three stories saw print this month, though thus far I've only seen one. ("Bomb" lost its bestseller status yesterday--sniff. Ah, well, all good things must come to an end.) I'm going to New House this afternoon to visit with my family, and rumour has it that at least my copies of LCRW 13 are waiting for me there. We'll have to see about Flytrap.
Yesterday I was very, very good about protecting my carpy arm (well ... until late at night, that is, when I broke down and started writing emails) and it's feeling better. The ache is very low-grade, and the muscles in my arm are relaxing again, so I've taken off the brace and am trying to be very gentle. Have to keep reminding myself that scrubbing the bathtub really isn't a good thing to do right now (and is probably what pushed the wrist over the edge, now that I think about it), and scraping down pans with a blunt knife--likewise, not such a good plan. So it seems that cleaning is out. Such a pity.
Started off the day today with some more cool news. It seems that Summoned by Destiny is going to be published in hardcover! I'm excited--I mean, come on, hardcover! That means that if I wasn't given a contributor's copy, I wouldn't be able to afford it! Hmm ... that came out wrong. It's a good thing, really. (I love hardcovers as books, and sometimes have to rouse myself from dreams of seeing a novel of mine published in hardcover, but the price tags are not kind to starving students. Unless, of course, I go to Bakka and get the cool discount...)
Anyway, for the not-cool news section of the post, it seems that I've done in my arm. Yes, my carpy arm is back, suddenly and most painfully. I know what did it, too: a combination of long periods of time typing on a laptop keyboard (I can't plug in my cool split keyboard because I don't own the appropriate adapter), waaaaay too much time wasted on the internet/solitaire while waiting for a rejection/acceptance (who knew I'd get both?), and spare time spent crocheting. I've spent a good portion of today wearing my wrist brace, which is lovely and comforting but also hard as hell to type on this keyboard with. Also, I've been using a plastic water bottle filled with hot tap water to try and relax my spasming arm muscles. (Yes, it really is a hot water bottle. There, I said the lame thing for you all, so you don't have to keep thinking it.)
So I've been doing my best to keep myself off the computer today. Shouldn't be typing now, really. I think I'll stop and type more when it's not actively painful.
So you know how sometimes when you get a rejection that says something like "Wish I'd had room to buy it," you think, that's great but a full anthology is a full anthology.
Well. A few hours ago I received an email from Julie, saying that she has spoken to her publisher and they agreed that the anthology needed to be longer. There is room in Summoned by Destiny, and she wants to buy "Peak of the Ocean"! I'm going to be in an anthology, a real book!!
The moment I saw the email I knew, and yet when I read those words I gasped aloud. Much shouting, laughing and hitting of random things ensued. I can't believe it. A story written in under a week is suddenly my second professional sale. I am shocked and very, very happy.
... and suddenly realizing that I'll only have two stories to submit to the Asimov Award this year after all. And I don't mind! Hehe!
Received my rejection from Julie Czerneda's fantasy anthology Summoned by Destiny earlier this afternoon. As I expected, "Peak of the Ocean" wasn't exactly what she was looking for, but still made it to the final cut. So close! Still, any rejection that includes the line "Wish I'd had room to buy it" is all right with me.
My original plan wasn't to sell a story (though that would have been very nice indeed) but to write something good enough to catch her attention and earn me an invitation to the next anthology. Which I did. So despite the fact that this was a rejection, I'm feeling quite pleased with myself. Mission accomplished.
Now back to work. Stories don't write themselves, and I spent too much time fretting today and not enough time reading. Two more weeks, only two more weeks...
Tomorrow I will know the fate of "Peak of the Ocean." Tomorrow, tomorrow. Today, no. There is no use checking and re-checking my email, no point in loading and reloading the newsgroup, because today I will not know. No. But this knowledge does not stop me.
Despite the (I hope) goodness of this story, I realize my chances of acceptance for this anthology are very slim. And yet ... yet. It's always the "yet", isn't it? The howevers and maybes and perhapses that keep us going.
So I am waiting, and attempting to fill my time constructively. Yesterday I started what seems to be a real draft of "Doors"--no, wait, call it by its real (and more confusing) title, "Ohntai"--and should continue on that. I finished The Castle of Llyr and continued Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, and eyed Anna Karenina with a weary kind of interest. (It's not that I dislike the book, realize, just that I've been unable to concentrate on it for more than a few hours a week, and it's too heavy to bring with me regularly on the bus or the subway, and so it sits there, an 800-page presence at the back of my mind and a weight on my box of a bedside table.) I have filled my neti pot with water and salt and am waiting for it to cool; I realized that I haven't been able to breathe well for some time and would like to remedy that. I ponder making a banana drink, and ponder eating some snacks, and wonder what I did to my back to make my spine feel so bruised.
As lovely as it is to be guaranteed of such a quick turnaround time, it is somehow agonizing, too, as I have no time to forget about it. I've had a story at On Spec for something like eight or nine months, and remember it now only as one remembers their last birthday, an excitement that has become blurred around the edges.
And as I wait, and as I type, I am aware of this strange heaviness that has settled on me again. I fight it--I have been playing a mixture of Counting Crows and Belle & Sebastian ("Miami," "Sleep the Clock Around," "New Frontier," "Stars of Track and Field," start again)--but in the quiet it is so easy to just sit and drift within this grip. I am aware of the strange distance of my own words. It's something to do with darkness, and cold, and being alone. I think it's called November.
In Which I Tell the Story About How I Made a Fool of Myself on the Subway
So. I'd forgotten, of course, that the mere mention of my posting something "tomorrow" pretty much guarantees that I'll do nothing of the sort. Oops. Well, the banana muffin recipe is a success (see, see?) and so I suppose it's now time for the story about how I made a fool of myself in the subway. Or, I should say, a story about how I made a fool of myself in the subway. Sadly, there's more than one, but I find this is the most recent and most amusing.
So, my Thursday morning class was cancelled. I was happy about this, actually, because it was cold and incredibly windy outside, threatening to snow, and I wanted no part of that. Especially not shortly after the sun has risen. The weather was so yucky, in fact, that I almost didn't go to my afternoon class, either. But, good student that I am (and realizing that I'd just waste the afternoon anyway), I headed out. Since it was early in the afternoon at this point, the bus to York wasn't running and I had to take the subway.
As a general rule, I prefer taking the subway to the bus, even though it takes a bit longer. The subway is just more enjoyable. But that afternoon there'd been a bit of a delay in one of the other stations, and so I found myself traveling in a very full subway car. I had to stand. Standing's alright, but seeing as I was still wearing my woolen gloves to keep my hands from freezing off, holding on to the pole to keep myself from falling over was a bit more difficult than it would have been otherwise.
After a few stops, a good number of passengers got up and left, one of whom vacated a seat. "Yay, seat!" I thought, and since the train was already in motion again I made the decision to walk to the seat before we reached the next station when I could possibly lose the lovely seat to someone else's ass.
So, releasing my pole, I walked to the seat. The man in the next seat was taking up a fair bit of room, and I realized that I'd have to sit sideways on the seat. This was okay with me, though took some maneuvering. As I was just preparing to sit in my lovely seat the train came into the next station and braked. Hard.
Everyone else swayed to the side. I, however, was caught in mid-crouch, halfway to the seat and therefore in a very precarious situation. I lost my balance. Arms flailing, hair flying, I stumbled wildly to the side.
"Woah!" I cried, and thinking quickly, grabbed for the nearest pole. (The nearest pole was a good few feet from my almost-seat, so that gives you some idea of the distance that I'd already stumbled.) I caught a hold of the pole, but seeing as I was still wearing my gloves it was difficult to get a grip. I clutched the pole, and pulling my other arm in towards my chest, spun around the pole at a considerable speed.
The train came to a stop, and I was left standing in the middle of the very full subway car, clinging to a pole and laughing helplessly. I'm not sure what drew the most attention--my initial stumble, the wild flailing of my arms, my surprised shout or the final wild piroette--but it seemed that everyone in that car was watching me. Still laughing, I made my way back to the empty seat. I think that because I was laughing so openly, others felt that it was okay to laugh at my ridiculous display of poor balance and bad timing, and so met my eyes and laughed, too. It was probably the funniest thing that anyone had seen that day, and I know of at least two people who were still laughing as they left the train a stop or two later.
As we reached the end of the line, some twenty minutes later, I was thinking to myself how truly geeky I am. When I, a twenty-two year old female, found myself swinging around a metal pole in the middle of a crowd, the first analogy I thought of was using a planet's gravity as a slingshot. The stripper analogy didn't occur to me for quite some time. This thought was enough to get me laughing again, and as everyone who had witnessed my little display had by that time left the car, the few strangers still on the subway with me looked at me, the girl in her hard-won seat, quite oddly. And that, too, was funny.
The clamour for the recipe for my banana muffins has been overwhelming. And by "clamour" I mean two polite emails, and by "overwhelming" I mean just enough to convince me to post this. Banana muffins are excellent, and this recipe is better than most. And I'm not just saying that because it's mine. (And apologies to those who could not care about recipes for muffins or in general. Come back tomorrow and I'll tell the story about how I made a fool of myself on the subway today.) So, without further ado...
In a small bowl, mix
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
In a large bowl, mash three bananas. (Brown, squishy bananas are best.)
Add 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
Add dry ingredients and mix well. (Watch out for flour lumps! They hide.) At this point I add chocolate chips. I do not measure the chocolate chips; it is obvious when there are enough. Others like to add raisins or nuts. This is nice for them, I say.
Spoon into muffin tins and bake at 325 F for 20 minutes.
I love today. I've had enough sleep and the rest of the day stretches out before me. My tasks for today include a final polishing of "Peak of the Ocean" and then to submit it, finishing off Mauve and The Black Cauldron, and catching up on my long neglected email. And I think I'll make a batch of banana muffins.
I've actually been hard at work on "Peak" for the last two hours or so (with a break to put in a load of laundry). It's funny; this is the only story that I've written in ... let's see ... at least three years, if not more, that I'm going to submit without having had anyone but me read it. I'm a little nervous by this lack of critiquing, but it's not as if I really had any other option. My regular critiquers wouldn't even receive the story in time to comment, never mind have time to reply, and those that I would ask are either sick, incredibly busy, or, well, didn't reply. So. It's just me.
And I've done the read-aloud edit twice, and now find myself obsessing over the number of spaces after periods, which I think means that I should just submit it already. Nervous? Me? Whatever makes you think that?
So this past weekend, I went to visit my family at New House. I also had a lot of story to write, and seeing as my desk there is still buried beneath boxes (which I know I'm not going to unpack until December) I set up my lovely laptop in the room known as the library. I sat myself down on the couch, and ran an internet cable up from the basement, and plugged in my speakers--had the whole deal going. It was lovely.
Now the only reason that any of this worked is that the computer I currently call mine is a laptop, as mentioned above. You may remember how way back in June I at last allowed my brother to upgrade my desktop computer, seeing as any time I tried to do anything it would either freeze up or give me warning messages about how my hard drive was full. He, however, couldn't make it work once he was finished, and didn't know what to do about that, so the temporary laptop that I was borrowing became, by necessity, my main (and only) computer.
Sometime over the last little while, my laptop has become a little noisy. I noticed this shortly after I moved into this apartment, but just sort of shrugged, because my computers have always made strange noises. When it's thinking about something, my computer goes "clickety-click-churning-click-CLACK! crunchy-churning-churning-CLACK!" Or something to that effect. The CLACK! is loud enough to be heard a room or two away when there's no other noise, so it's really quite the clack.
So there I was, all nicely set up in the library, computer actually on my lap, when my dad came in to talk to me. My computer was thinking about something. My father looked at me, and looked at the computer, and asked with an expression of great concern, "Does your computer always do that?"
"Pretty much, yeah," I told him.
"That's not good," he said. "It sounds like your hard drive's about to break."
Oh. Lovely. Apparently this joyful CLACK! is a sign of this computer's imminent self-destruction. To make matters more interesting, this laptop is a discontinued model, so if I need to replace the hard drive I'll have to find a used one.
But how bad can it really be, I wondered. I mean, after all, it's been happily clacking away for at least two months now. To quote my father, "Well, I hope it lasts another two weeks."
Yeah, I hope so too. Excuse me, I think I'll go back up "Peak of the Ocean" again.
Okay, I've got it figured out now. Are we sick of me talking about my Fictionwise ranking? Yes, probably. Okay, last time. "Bomb" is 5th in recent SF and 12th in all recent ebooks of any genre. (Cool! Only to me? Likely!)
Have been doing some rewriting, and am feeling positive about the story in general, despite everything. Have to leave it for a bit, though, and go read Mauve for a while. This is a pretty cool book, actually, about how the "creation" of the colour literally changed the world.
"Bomb" has risen to number five. This is fun! I should be reading right now, or editing/revising, but I keep hitting repeat on Belle and Sebastian's "Sleep the Clock Around" and wandering the internet.
I got an email the other day from Geoff Landis over our Clarion list saying that "Drowned Men Can't Have Kids" was reviewed "briefly but favorably" in the November issue of Locus. And though the review is only one sentence long, I now must find myself a copy. (Besides, it's the Torcon issue, so I would have had to buy it sometime anyway.) So it looks like I'm going to be making a trip to Bakka sometime in the near future, maybe Wednesday or Friday from the looks of my schedule. We'll see.
I've also just discovered that "Loving the Bomb" is now a Fictionwise Recent SF eBooks Bestseller. (Which is a way of saying that I'm a bestseller in a really, really small category.) It's currently number 12. But, small category or no, there is a cool little Bestseller icon on the Loving the Bomb page, and this makes me happy. Lord only knows how people are finding the book, though, because every time I check Farsector is still showing the October issue. It's a mystery.
In new story-related news, I've come to the realization that this story is not very likely to be what the editor is wanting for this anthology. At all. I am, however, very glad that I wrote it. This story, hereafter known by its title, "Peak of the Ocean," is a background story for a novel (or, more likely, a series of three novels) that I've been toying with off and on for a while now and may have told some of you about. It was delightful to let myself finally dive into this culture and landscape that I've created--and that's what it felt like, diving. I knew this place and these people already; the worldbuilding is mostly done, and entering the world feels like playing.
It was also fantastic to discover that yes, I really can get some serious writing done if I don't let my lazy-ass self spend all my free time checking my email, blogging (oops) or watching pointless TV. And while I'm rushing right now to catch up on my reading for class tomorrow, there is no need for me to write this quickly most of the time. After all, this tight deadline is a sort of one-time deal.
Plus, if I keep my momentum and get back to work on the short story that I was writing (temporarily known as "Doors") and rewrite the final scene of "I Breathe" so that it fits the rest of the story, I'll have three stories to submit to this year's Asimov Award. That'd be a first.
The first draft has just come in at 6,275 words. The beginning needs some serious rewriting--and I usually expand as I rewrite--which means that the middle is in for a good few hundred words of slicing, at the very least. I feel energized and inspired. Bring it on!
Okay, time to stop for today. I'm getting clumsy. The story total stands at 4,101 words, though I wrote considerably more today. See, the problem I often have when I make myself write when I haven't found a story's voice is that the prose just goes: So and so did this, and then they did this, and this is how this looked, and then this happened ... Blech. Very dull, and not particularly interesting to read, I assure you. But I can usually beat this into readable prose upon rewriting.
Well, there I was, writing away, when all of a sudden the story's voice blindsided me and I was off. I basically rewrote everything except for the first day's 1,200-odd words, which haven't been rewritten simply because I didn't want to stop going forward. So, in total I wrote about 4,000 words today, which isn't half bad, even if I did delete more than a thousand of them. Barely got any school-related reading done, but hey, something had to give.
Okay, one more time wasting thing, then I'm going to get back to work. Really.
I've been listening to and enjoying the Belle and Sebastian song "Storytelling" a lot these last few days, partially because of the fun and quirky sound, partially because of the lyrics. Other than the Beatles' "Paperback Writer" I don't know so many songs about fiction writers, so this stands out for that reason alone.
It never fails. Whenever I leave Toronto for New House, it's bright and sunny. As I drive, clouds begin to cover the sky, so that by the time I hit Bolton it's totally overcast, and by the time I reach Palgrave the weather is even less lovely. Usually this means rain; yesterday, however, it was snow. Snow! Just little spitting flakes of snow, too few to linger on the ground, but still. Snow. I am not Marissa. This change does not make me happy. Still, it's bright and sunny right now, and there's supposed to be an eclipse beginning in a few hours, and if I'm here I can lay back in a chair in the courtyard and watch it through the massive skylight. There are advantages.
So, the story continues. I lied in my last post; shortly after writing that, I thought "Screw it," and went and read what I'd written so far. It's not fantastic but it's readable. It's very first-draft sort of stuff, but I am encouraged because I remember how like a recipe "A Last Taste of Sweetness" was in its first draft stage and it turned out lovey and good with a little rewriting. Still, it's a different way of writing than I'm used to. Most of the time I'm focusing on very precise little scenes, which I see and know with sharp clarity before writing. When I do this, much of the "first draft" ends up in the final draft. It's all about rearranging. Here, it's different. But it's fun, too.
Yesterday I doubled my original word count, bringing me to a current total of 2,555 words. I'm around halfway through the story, too, so my pacing seems about right. I'd like to get the draft finished today, though, if I can so that I can work on editing and rewriting and all that other lovely stuff which is absolutely crucial if this story is going to have anything resembing a chance. Which means I should stop being lazy and get to work.
So yes, it's almost two in the morning, and yes, I'm still awake. Lord only knows why. All day I was dragging just a little bit--had that heavy feeling in my eyelids, and the desire to just stay quiet and rest. But somehow once it was almost midnight, bing! I was awake. Very awake. I can feel how tired I am and yet I also know that if I go and lie down I will just lie awake and lie awake, watching the numbers on the clock change. So here I am.
It has been a productive evening, though. I started my fantasy short story shortly after coming home from class, and have written about 1000 words so far. I'm feeling pretty positive about what I've written, too--though knowing me, I'll write and write until I'm almost done and then realize that I hate it and start again. I'd really rather not do that this time, though, what with the tight time limit and all, and so I'll stick to the happy-positive thinking and not read it until the draft is finished.
I'm still lingering in that questionable place between sick and not sick. My throat, though not exactly sore anymore, feels strange when I swallow, and my sinuses have begun to ache, etc., and yet I remain highly functional. Except for the sleep thing. So I've been throwing zinc and vitamin C at this potential illness in the hope that if it does develop into a full-blown sickness then it will not be too severe and will leave me quickly. Here's to hoping.
So, since I don't have any major written assignments due next week, my time will be spent reading books and writing/editing/polishing the short story. And I figure that even if I do become horribly ill, well, I can read books in bed and have written some really cool short fiction while taking high doses of Sudafed.
But now I think I'll go to bed and read for a while. My book for today was Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi, which is a very good book, actually, and I only have a handful of pages left. Up next: The Book of Three. (Nothing like a little variety, huh?) Night, all.
This afternoon, sometime around 2:00, my throat began getting sore. Since then, it has only gotten worse. I say to myself, "Ah, just a little sore throat. Probably scratched it while swallowing." But swallowing what? The waffles that were my breakfast? Cranberry juice? Oh, I can't even fool myself well.
And did I say three school texts to be read before next Thursday? Now it's seven. Such is life--or, rather, such is school. At least some of them will be good, fun, short books.
I suppose the Universe decided that I wasn't busy enough. Ha ha, very funny Universe.
So last night Sarah made me aware of a very cool opportunity that I would be a total fool to ignore. Said opportunity gives me a week or less to write a polished fantasy story. Ack. Well, I am busy, but I am not a fool. I hope.
So, for next Thursday, all of a sudden I need to write an essay (that's for tomorrow, actually), write two journal entries, read three school texts and write one finished and polished fantasy short story of about 5000 words. Wow, I'm encouraged: my to-do list only has four items! I can do this, yes. So time to get moving.
Sun, Sleepy, Stompy, and the Howling Dog of Doom Or, Why I'm Falling Asleep On My Keyboard
Ah, Tuesday. What a long day. And today seemed longer than normal, due to the fact that I got about 3 hours of sleep last night. That is not a good amount of sleep, not for a whole night. It was one of those tossing and turning nights where I kept looking at the clock and thinking to myself, "Well, if I fell asleep now I'd get five hours of sleep," .... "If I fell asleep now I'd get four and a half hours of sleep," ... "If I fell asleep now..."
My sleep schedule has been thrown off lately anyway due to two different things. One problem is my lovely curtains. I love my lovely curtains. They are blue and thick and let me sleep and sleep and sleep--sometimes until noon. Oops. See, the thing is, I never had to set my alarm on days that I didn't have class simply because the sun always woke me up. Sometimes I'd squirm over to the far side of the bed and try to hide from the brightness, but that rarely worked for long. But now, the lovely curtains allow my room to be as dark as a cave for as long as I want and my foolish brain can't figure out when to wake up.
The second problem is Stompy and the Howling Dog of Doom. Stompy is the woman who lives above us. We don't know what she does to get money, but I wouldn't rule out Riverdance as a possibility. Stompy is actually moving out, though we don't quite know how soon; however, right now she's here and she has a dog with her. A large dog, from the sound of it. A large dog who likes to bark and howl and run around on the floor above my head as he barks and howls, and who enjoys doing so early in the morning and late at night. Enjoyable.
However, on the positive side, when I pinched myself in the arm today to keep myself awake during class I only bruised myself lightly, and I didn't fall asleep on the bus, either. Go me.
So this afternoon Carly and I decided to go out and find Dumpling. We've been meaning to go looking for Dumpling for a week or two now, but it seemed that something else always got in the way. Today, however, we were prepared ... until we walked outside and it was nasty and cold and rainy. In a quick change of plans, we decided to drive rather than walk to the local pet store.
"Dumpling," I called. "Dumpling, are you here?" We thought that he'd be there, but it was hard to tell. At first it seemed like he wouldn't be. Pet food lined the walls, and there were more tiny dog sweaters than I've ever seen at once, but the aquariums were only lightly populated and with tropical fish at that.
Enter the helpful sales lady. "We're looking for a goldfish," Carly told her.
"Yes," I wanted to add, "His name is Dumpling. Have you seen him?" But I didn't. Because that would just be weird. Obviously.
And yes, the helpful sales lady was helpful, and guided us to the tank of goldfish, and yes, the helpful sales lady was good at selling things, because she proceeded to set us up with everything that two girls could possibly need to take care of one small goldfish. Named Dumpling.
We spent quite some time looking through all the various fish. There were black fish with bulging eyes and a gold shimmer to their scales, and bright orange fish, and white fish, and splotchy fish, and truly golden fish. Dumpling took some finding, but we found him: a small, plump orange and white goldfish with a fancy tail.
He's now happily living with his fancy plant that grows out of the fancy blue and red gravel in his fancy fishbowl, which sits on our plain Ikea bookshelf. Every home needs a pet, and we now have Dumpling.
So today is my Eichmann in Jerusalem/essay writing day. My copy of this book is borrowed from the York Library (and is actually the second book that I've taken out to read for this essay. The first, Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, would have been much easier for the purposes of this essay, I think, but someone else from my class put a hold on it and stole it away from me. Goddamn.) As much as I dislike finding library books full of other people's scribbled notes and highlighting, I do enjoy finding random bits of paper between the pages. Bookmarks, obviously. In this one I've just discovered a long, narrow strip of white paper with all its corners rounded, on which is written "Beautiful Garden, Stunning Bush".
Why is it that such random things have the power to make me happy?
Now I know why it was a good idea for me to learn to run: so I can run a few city blocks down Bathurst at 1:15 AM in a desperate attempt to make it to the subway before it closes. It worked, too. Now I just fear how my legs are going to feel in the morning...