The Writing

24 October, 2017

the ninth ring

I actually don't remember my Dante well enough to say  if there even is one that deals with weather in Inferno. If there isn't, there should be. I mean, it was 91 degrees at 6AM in late October, on its way to triple digits. (And in the time it took to write this post, yes, we hit 100).

I just finished the first draft (as opposed to the zero-th) of WIP,* which is not really IP anymore, but also is because it's not finished. But it's tacked together enough that I can send it to Nous, and send it back to The Rat, who read the subzero-th version already, and eventually, to The Mighty Agent. I have, like, 40K in scrap notes, which is what I had for Enemy, too. The detritus of world-building. The ways plot could've gone, and didn't. Still way better than the aborted 93K novel from last autumn. No, WIP is not book three of On the Bones of Gods. That manuscript has a name (Ally) and will be forthcoming in 2018, barring disaster. Expect much fanfare as the details become more clear. Expect the revisions on that to be eating my head soon enough.

I had started to post about the MeToo hashtag--

--which I participated in on Facebook (and not on Twitter), but--well. I didn't have anything to add, you know? There are so many of us, and so much overlap. I was struck by the number among my friends who hesitated to post (myself included) because we didn't think our experiences were serious enough. Catcalls and creepers and men from whom we could walk away without penalty didn't seem legit in the face of the assaults other women reported. That's toadshit, of course. I did not encounter any of the assholes some of the others did--the men whose comments made it about them, the women who said this is shaming, or not enough, or too much, or elevating victimhood, as if we are all asking for pity. And wait, what? I don't feel shame because some dude pulled up beside my twelve-year-old self and exposed his penis to me, or because some guy slapped my ass, or because a guy assessed me as fuckable (or not, depending on the encounter). I feel anger. I always have. And anyone who thinks I should feel something other than that can shut the fuck up--

--but decided I should work on this Tolkien class I just agreed to teach at the high school during the spring semester, which is a particularly long 17 class days of 2.5 hours each and no, we are not watching the LoTR and The Hobbit trilogies in their entirety. (Although that remains an option, I guess. But if I can't get the damned films done in one class, what's the point?) I had been intending to teach Zombie Lit, for which I have a syllabus already prepared, but the students I guess wanted Tolkien, and the boss asked who wanted to do that, so.... I am now researching, finding excerpts, coming up with (or borrowing) lesson plans. These are creative writers. We can do some cool shit. But it's also a lit class, so we don't do a lot of writing, which means I will need to PDF (it is too a verb. Shut up) all manner of things. Eventually. Not today. It's too hot to fight with the scanner today.

I have rediscovered Tolkien fans, though. Whew. Also too hot to get into that right now. But let's say I'm gonna have to watch the 3rd installment of The Hobbit and I intend to have beer and ice cream when I do it. Self-medication at its finest. (I'm going to hope Smaug wins, and write fanfic in my head where he does.)

14 September, 2017

black sand, dancing skies

The Lyft driver was horrified.

"You're going where?" she said. "To do...what?"

Iceland, we said. To climb a waterfall and walk the black beach at Reynisfjara and hike Thingvellir
Thingvellir, site of the Althing
and ride horses. No tour buses, no sitting in hot springs, no fancy dinners. Rain gear, good boots, lots of layers, wool socks. Maybe the aurora borealis, if we were lucky. Probably not a lot of beer. Certainly not a lot of people. 340K on the whole island! Long stretches of nothing and no one. Lots of sheep and horses. Silence, I said wistfully. Maybe somewhere I can't hear any cars.

"Have fun," the Lyft driver wished us. But she sounded doubtful. (Her upcoming vacation, a weekend in Denver, was to be spent drinking and partying and otherwise not exerting herself one more iota than necessary. I do not judge this, but I also do not want it.)

Maybe it's that Nous and I are not good at vacations. We haven't been on one that lasted more than a day (visiting family does not count) for 15 years. Perhaps we could've offered that as excuse to the Lyft driver--we don't know how to relax in long stretches. And also, to us, hiking is relaxing. Seeing new landscapes is relaxing. Nous getting some quality time with his camera is relaxing.

We got our wishes. All of them.

I mean: we went to Iceland in September and did not need our rain pants. It rained exactly twice: the afternoon we arrived, and on the return from Reynisfjara.

Glymur, in Hvalfjordur
Which meant, when we went up the Glymur waterfall trail, it was sunny, and our (very enthusiastic) guide decided to take the long way, which involved crossing a glacial river twice, barefoot. No tour buses. You can't see Glymur from the road. You have to earn it.

No lie: I felt pretty badass, afterwards. And I was also very glad of my wool socks (one of my earliest pairs) which prevented blisters from lingering damp and sandy bits that stuck to me after the river crossings.

We saw the aurora borealis that night, of which I have no pictures, because I was too busy watching them. They looked like  bands of silver and the faintest hints of green. Like ghosts moving on the vaults of the sky.

And then, finally, Reynisfjara, which was my Must See from the very first time I saw a photo. We drove out of Reykjavik, past farms of sheep and Icelandic horses, past Eyjafjallajökull (capped in clouds, quiet, brooding), past a parade of waterfalls fed by the glaciers.

There is something about this long stretch of black sand, studded with rocks, ringed with basalt columns on one side and crashing grey sea on the other. Just listen to it. I wish I could share the rest: the wind, the cold salty tang of the sea, the grit of the sand. But this will have to do.

28 August, 2017

rug therapy

Friend T, she who makes amazing pastries and cooks like fucking Top Chef, said she could never knit because it requires too much patience. (And I think...but you make pastry by hand. And you make fancy food that requires attention. I don't understand how you don't have patience).

And I said--pff. It's not patience. It's therapy. When I feel like I have control of nothing, and/or when the writing's gone to shit, I impose some order on unruly sheep fur and feel better about things.

It has been a summer in need of therapy, and since I acquired BRUISE and a spinning wheel in July...

I made this rug.

The BRUISE was spun, then plied, then knit (garter stitch) double-stranded with a single-ply merino in a truly 80s electric blue, and then felted. And although it is supposed to be my rug, for when I work at my desk...Skugga wasted no time in deciding it was his. We'll negotiate, cat.