Kelly and I made a little change to our pre-work walk this morning, taking 8th Avenue past the new community garden where some friends of ours have a plot. I’ve been able to see the installation happening as I’ve gone to and fro–between one thing and another, I pass the Broadway/Commercial intersection four to six times a day–but hadn’t gotten a good look. What’s there is attractive and thoughtfully laid out. The central area holds raised garden beds made of cedar, already pre-planted with veggies and herbs. Ground-level flower and berry gardens encircle these beds, and the backdrop is the Grandview Cut. The plants were donated by a local nursery, all the cedar chips are new and fragrant, and the whole thing radiates a newness and warmth that’s very pleasing. We are thinking we’ll do the walk past a lot in the next little while.
Afterward, I made my way to Cafe Calabria and had a bash at the current fiction project, that slice of a novel I mentioned before, for the grant application. I was searching for one more scene to add into it, looking for something that had a bit of literary grit and referred back to the stuff I’ve put in the proposal, which is about shifting landscapes of privilege and the labeling, within large families, of different individuals as insiders and outsiders. On Wednesday I was sitting in the cafe scraping after that scene, whatever it was. I didn’t really expect to find the right answer, because I hadn’t slept the night before. But the idea came, to my surprise, and I scribbled some notes on it without getting started–trying to write on no sleep is never a good idea for me. Yesterday I drafted the first half, and today I wrapped it up. I have a piece I’m happy with now, and I have until fall to polish it until it shines.
I am delighted to have reached this point. If I’m not swamped by other commitments (some of which I’m chasing very actively), I will write a draft of the whole book in November, just as I did WINTERGIRLS and DAUGHTERS OF ZEUS.
Here’s a snippet from earlier the draft:
Sarah Varney’s address was a residential hotel, one that, from the look of it, was home to a good chunk of the city’s addict population. Its windows were black with grime, its awning greasy and tattered, with loose aluminium ribs inhabited by motheaten, feebly peeping pigeons. The sidewalk leading to the reinforced revolving door was glazed in bird droppings; it was impossible not to track them in.
The door spun them out into a lobby that smelled of Lysol and urine. A diminutive Asian crone eyeballed them through a cage of greasy bulletproof glass.
This feels very much as if it’s at a finished-for-now point, and given that we’re headed to Seattle for the LOCUS Awards tomorrow, I will probably skip actual fiction-writing for the whole of the weekend. By Monday, I’ll need to have decided what to work on next. I have another proposal I’d be delighted to work on, but I’m waiting on some notes; I have a drafted squid story that could use some attention, and a horror novel, SEE HOW THEY RUN, that I want to revise at some point in the near. I have a pile of books I need to read for various research stuff, and one I want to review.
Non-fic stuff on the go includes three last lectures for Novel Writing II and assorted admin stuff, two guest blog posts to write, a review, some things I want to talk and post about in this space, critiques for a couple of my one on one students, fine-tuning of a website I’m developing for my choir, and more work on the alyxdellamonica.com page.
On a more recreational note, I need to review everything I learned in last year’s Italian class before my next one begins in about ten days time and one of my Jonathan Coulton albums has vanished from my iPod.
Twitter has moments when it rocks my world. After we’d checked with some usual suspects I’d posted a note saying we wanted someone to stay with the cats this August when we’re cruising to Alaska with my mother’s family. I got a whole bunch of nibbles right away, some good referrals, and in the end what’s happened is an artist friend from Ontario’s going to come stay with the kids. We get cat-care, she gets a cheap vacation, and as a bonus we get to see her for the first time in a fair stretch of years. It’s really win-win-win!
I didn’t sleep much Tuesday evening, so yesterday I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how much work I have upcoming in July. The answer seemed to be a lot; now that I have slept, it turns out that’s entirely true. By three I was circling the office, looking at the pile and knowing I had no brains to tackle it, and then circling around again.
Instead of continuing to freak out, I bundled my butt off to a 5K walk arranged by Weight Watchers and The Running Room. I’d thought of bailing, because of the no-sleep thing, but somehow my addled brain served up the memory that one of the few things I’m good for in that state is exercise, and off I went.
It helped. It helped a lot. I ended up walking with someone I’d only met once, and it turned out we had plenty to talk about, nothing astounding, just that thing that happens when you meet someone who’s in the same stage of life. She had her very tall eight-year-old daughter with her, and the kid motored along, keeping our pace–which was challenging. Toward the end she was stumbling. I remember that happening to me as a kid: getting tired, still pushing on through will alone, but failing to lift my feet high enough to clear minor obstructions like the cracks in the sidewalk.
I came home tired, sweaty, and in a much better mood and after I’d showered and suppered Kelly and I broke out the DARIA DVDs. Not only are we enjoying re-viewing episodes we watched over and over and endlessly over at the end of the Nineties, but it looks as though we missed most of an entire season in the middle of the run. So in the past couple of days we’ve seen six or seven shiny new episodes, one of which, “Pierced,” gets my vote for funniest Daria ever. Yes, I am a Daria/Trent shipper. (Would that amalgamate into Drent? And what are Gleeks calling an imaginary Finn/Puck pairings? Because the word that comes to mind isn’t Pinn, if you know what I mean.)
Speaking of Television and GLEE, a note to the lovely elves who will be hanging with the kittehs and watching while we’re away this weekend–there’s a musical episode called “Daria!” I’ll try to figure out which disc it’s on if you’re interested.
Away, yes. We will be at the LOCUS Awards this weekend, hobnobbing with Kelly’s Taos instructors, Connie Willis and Walter Jon Williams, along with lovely folk like Nicola Griffith and Kelley Eskridge and so many others it would be silly to try to name them.
Lately most of my posted photos have been of ducks or other birds, so here’s an invertebrate for you all, a glowy sunlit butterfly. This one, like so many of my recent shots, came from Burnaby Lake… it almost makes the world look summery, despite the fact that our weather has been ambivalent for months, waffling to and fro betwixt warmth and deluge.
I have been tip-tapping at the computer since I got home from my weekly Wednesday breakfast date with Kelly: teaching, answering e-mails, and fiddling with my web site. I am working on two sites at once right now, and contemplating diving into a third. Soon, though, I will head out to the cafe and go back to wrestling with the current work in progress, a thirty-page sample of a book I’ve tentatively titled FILTERING FOR RAIN, or perhaps THE RAIN GARDEN. (For the couple of you who’ve seen THE WINTERGIRLS in MS, this would be the Dill book.)
The sample would be for a grant application, and the readers are looking for literary merit. What I have so far feels like two nicely literary scenes sandwiching a bit of plotty filling. I want another nice, image-laden, freighted-with-import something to pull it all together. I haven’t quite figured out what that is, though, and since I slept quite poorly last night I don’t know how successful I’ll be when I attempt it after lunch. But I’m a big believer in plugging away, even if it might not be overly comfortable. The head against wall bash-bash-bash seems to usually get me somewhere, sooner or later.
I am also supposed to go on a 5K walk this evening with a bunch of people from the mentoring gig. Unless a nap happens after the fiction-writing, I’m thinking that’s coming off the agenda. I could do the walk itself half-asleep, but coherent conversation would be beyond me.