neile: (Default)
I apologize for being so silent. 2011 was such a quiet year that I have little to say, and honestly I haven't written here because I felt there was not much that needed saying since the Clarion West Workshop and Write-a-thon this summer.

Right now 2012 feels remarkably hopeful to me, and I'm optimistic about things, both personal and professional. I hope all of you feel the same way, and that our optimism proves to be warranted. A healthy, productive, prosperous, fun, and adventurous year full of love, friends, and dreams come true to you.

Happy New Year!

For the year's report of my listening, reading, and writing lives, see Les Semaines.
neile: (Default)
Hello, all--

And we're done.

The sorority house is now empty of all the things we brought in to make it the Clarion West Writers Workshop and worst of all, of all the students. The instructors have all gone home. There are still a few things to mail, a few bureaucratic tasks, items to be returned here and there, but it's over.

I'm not as exhausted post-workshop as I have been in previous years, though I was pretty punchy on move-out Saturday.

I managed just the bare minimum seven hours unplugged working on the novel this week. I also confess that for some portion of that time my eyes were closed. But! I'm now well into the second section (of three) of the novel revision and am really, really happy with what I've done. This is the revision that has finally (to me, at least, time will tell if it works for other readers) kicked it up a level, to what I've always been aiming for. I think it's there: as good as I can make it.

It's wonderful but also a little scary.

I was worried that the new poem this week would be a poor and hasty thing, but as it turns out I'm pretty happy with this first draft. It's a love poem, but also inspired by our garden and by once again watching a Clarion West class have to say goodbye to each other after six weeks of becoming each others' new tribe. They spent most of their final night together staying up to watch the sunrise together.

Thank you all again so much for your support of me and of Clarion West!

--Neile

----------

Chant for Summer Darkness in Northwest Climes

The taste of blue, as in bursting berries,
as in the air's weight on our tongues,
raspberry red as a summer's day turns.

West over water, the light once plum once
salmon turns aqua turns midnight blue
hazed with stars I make you name.

----------

[It's not too late! You can still visit this link to sponsor me in the Clarion West Write-a-thon, at which time I will send you the full draft of this and the other poems I wrote over the course of the write-a-thon.]
neile: (Default)
This started out as a calm, productive week and I got a lot of good hours working unplugged on the novel. I know I did at least my minimum unplugged hours, and I am now finished with chapters 5 & 6, which means I've completed Part 1 (of 3) of the novel.

Then things rather suddenly became chaotic as the students' internet was pulled because the regular residents of the house had continually used too much bandwidth. Our car was stolen and then found again (with an extra bonus! bumper draped over the back seat and trunk space). And some relatives visited who had never been in Seattle before. And of course we are winding toward the end of the workshop.

These are my excuses for my late report.

The poem this week is another one inspired by my mother (hi, Mom!). Hanging from my bookcase I have a a chilkat bag my mother wove. Chilkat is very different from the way the western world learned to weave, from the very way the yarn is spun in a Z twist, the opposite of the S that our yarn uses. My mother was a student of Bill Holm, and I suspect she heard him say these very words, because her love of Northwest arts and crafts had her pulling cattails to make a cattail mat, being claimed as a cousin so she could attend a native-only basket-weaving workshop, picking porcupine quills on the side of the I-90 as she and Dad moved me to Missoula for grad school, making her own drum from a deer hide (the deer skull lived in our freezer for many years and she needed the brains to tan the hide), and this. These were my old jeans as she prefers loose ones and those weren't tight enough to spin the wool on.

Thanks so much for your support of me and of Clarion West!

--Neile

----------

Creation Hymn

"You can't know anything, unless you can do it."
--Bill Holm

To learn is what matters, to be a maker
to know from the inside out, and in any case,
the usual wool is backwards for this,
so she starts from scratch,
in her daughter's tight jeans
spins a Z twist instead of S
rolls clouds of wool between palm and thigh


----------

[The full text of the poem is available to anyone who sponsors me in the Clarion West Write-a-thon or will serve as an LJ or Facebook cheerleader.]
neile: (Default)
Hello, all--

A sufficient week. The fourth week, where all the energy flags and the brain rebels. At least mine did. I managed a couple of hours above my minimum working unplugged on my novel, but just barely. This week my total was more like 9 hours, but then there were a lot of distractions, like the annual party at Astrid and Greg Bear's, and taking fourth-week instructor Minister Faust out shopping for goat.

I "finished" (am I ever finished?) re-working chapters three and four of the novel. I have sent them away. They're gone. I may look at them no longer. At least until my beta reader tells me to mess with them again.

The poem this week is a transformation myth inspired by a ring my mother gave me. It once was a gold bracelet with a Raven charm on it that she realized wasn't authentic work. So she had it re-made, giving a Native designer half of the gold as payment, and he made her a hummingbird ring out of the other half, which she later gave me. I wear it nearly every day.

Thanks so much for your support of me and of Clarion West!

--Neile

----------

Transformation Song

--for my mother, who gave me this tale--

Raven loses everything in masquerade,
loosens everything, melts the golden chains

he hangs from, even his igneous charm.

----------

[The full text of the poem is available to anyone who sponsors me in the Clarion West Write-a-thon or will serve as an LJ or Facebook cheerleader.]
neile: (Default)
A good week! Once again I managed several more hours unplugged than my minimum, and once again lost count. 12? 13? I've worked every day for at least one hour and tried to do two or more when I could. And learned once again that unplugging is the key to production. Boo! Have I no willpower? Don't answer that.

I'm still working on chapter three of my novel, my excuse being that it's a long chapter. A lot happens! And I'm sure the other reason is that its previous revision numbers run in the dozens rather than hundreds as do the first two chapters.

The poem first draft this week came from my surprise that I've never run across folklore about rain here or in Scotland. Kind of amazing given how much time we spend in its company. We have Thunderbird, but not rain gods, and of course there *must* be one, am I right or am I right (see below).

Thanks so much for your support of me and of Clarion West!

--Neile

----------

The Green Green Rain

What richer god than green
rain? But where is its story,
what tales do we tell of its
fey trickster teasing punishing

inviting ways? ...

---------

[The full text of the poem is available to anyone who sponsors me in the Clarion West Write-a-thon or will serve as an LJ or Facebook cheerleader.]
neile: (Default)
Things have evened out a little after the crazy Locus Awards weekend.

I actually managed to get several more hours unplugged than my minimum, though I lost count. 10? 11?

I still find that whenever I get even the slightest bit stuck I want go to check my email. When I remember I can't because the modem isn't dangling from the wall I do settle back down to work. It makes an embarrassing amount of difference to my productivity.

I'm working on chapter three right now, having gone over the first two chapters about five times and gotten to that point I mentioned last week where I felt I was only making things different, not better, and in danger of making them worse. So I stopped.

The sad news this week is that even staying up to dark o'clock didn't net me exactly a poem. Frankly, I'm not sure what this is. Maybe it's my answer to postmodern poetics. Or something. But here it is. A something: "King Orfeo: An Exegesis or: Orpheus was a Liar(1) (1) Lyre! Had a lyre! Or a harp."

Still I had fun. Too late at night.

P.S. You need to read this using a monospace font. Which I have attempted to program in.

Thanks so much for your support of me and of Clarion West!

--Neile

----------

King Orfeo:                      An Exegesis
or: Orpheus was a Liar(1)	 (1) Lyre! Had a lyre! Or a harp.



When, though guarded 	
by a thousand knights(2)        (2) Exaggerate much? Or else
                                If there really were a thousand
                                no wonder the fairies could 
                                slip in there and grab her
his lady was taken
by fairies(3), King Orfeo       (3) "For da king o Ferrie we his daert
                                Has pierced your lady to da hert"*
                                [Ferries being damn good shots 

                                and ever in need of extra women]
all but died of grief.


[snip]

------
* sounds like the rap version, doesn't it?

-------

Ha!

[The full text of the poem is available to anyone who sponsors me in the Clarion West Write-a-thon or will serve as an LJ or Facebook cheerleader.]
neile: (Default)
The first week of the workshop is always a struggle to find time to write, and yes this week was difficult. Especially the afternoon when I had three hours to work and promptly fell asleep, waking up just at the end of the time I had available. That was frustrating. However, I managed to make up the time and reach my minimum target of 7 hours unplugged and writing.

In case you're wondering, I am revising my first novel yet again. This must be the last time or my head will explode.

I keep revising it, and the problem is that every time I do I know I make it better. That makes it difficult to stop revising. I keep hoping I'll reach the point at which I know that I'm just making it a little different--or making it worse--so I can stop.

This revision is to put the main point-of-view character's voice back in first person, as it was hundreds of revisions ago in its first incarnation that no one saw. It was the right mode, but the wrong time for it. Now I think I'm doing it right.

So I'm doing that. I'm also evening out the pacing--looking to tighten where it needs it and give it a little more room when it needs it. When I cut out 33,000 words (after previously tightening out 20,000 words--yes this novel was once a monster) a couple of years ago, I created some problems that I never quite fixed right.

So that's what I'm doing. Minimum 7 hours a week unplugged.

Oh, and yes, the first draft of a poem (actually, this is the second because I kept working on it until very dark o'clock last night). It is still pretty first-drafty, but here it [at least the first stanza on LJ and Facebook] is for your perusal.

I've been thinking about Neolithic cairns recently. Actually, I think about them a lot.

Thanks so much for your support of me and of Clarion West!

--Neile

----------

Cairn by Dark by Cairn

Read the wall in the stones.
Read their will. How
the passage humbles you
warns you what you must

[The full text of the poem is available to anyone who sponsors me in the Clarion West Write-a-thon] or will serve as an LJ or Facebook cheerleader.
neile: (Default)
The sorority house has been re-claimed for writers. A classroom set up, boxes of survival supplies moved in from storage, one instructor and two students have already arrived, two more students arrive today, and 14 on Saturday.

On Sunday, registration, orientation, then Paul Park's superb disorientation will start taking 18 writers apart so they can put their words and worlds and themselves back together bigger, stronger, more ready to shake up the world.

I attended the workshop myself in 1996 and have been an administrator since 2001, and still get butterflies in my stomach this time of year.

I will be joining them in their journey both as a native guide and a fellow traveller--I'm doing the Clarion West Write-a-thon again, as is a marvellous array of both well-known and as-yet-undiscovered writers, which you--yes you--can sponsor on their six-week journey. Please consider it. Not only will you be giving a writer a good challenge (accountability is a wonderful motivator) but you will also be helping the independent nonprofit organization that makes this happen every year.

Check out The Clarion West Write-a-thon, my page there or the San Diego Clarion's write-a-thon which starts a week after ours.
neile: (Default)
This May has been April-wet and changeable. We've raced through it, covered in cat hair and watching things bloom and get washed away in rain then shine in sun. Outside my study window right now the white lilac is in full bloom, bringing birds to nosh on the insects it attracts.

I'm crazy busy. Went up to Victoria to see my parents, ever so briefly, last weekend. While Jim and I made this a four-day weekend by taking Friday off, it has been busy with writing, Clarion West prep, preparing for my last teaching session on Tuesday afternoon, etc.

Basically, I've got a lot going on. Some of it just in my head.

While I've loved teaching again, I've realized that it may be the one job too many. I often feel like I'm torn in many directions and this is one more. I have my day job at the UW, Clarion West, my writing (which I can subdivide into fiction and poetry, or subdivide into the actual writing and the work around the writing like grant applications and submissions) and then the teaching.

The students have been asking if I'll do it again, as has the colleague who involved me in this in the first place. I'm not saying never, but next year's book is a trio of lectures by Richard Feynman, and I can't imagine myself using that as a text. So, we'll see.

In the meantime, on with the last week of classes. Then exam week. Then break week. Then for the next six weeks I'm down to just two jobs: Clarion West and writing. Writing writing writing.

For my listening, reading, and writing updates, see Les Semaines.
neile: (Default)
Here's my stab at the Ian Sales's "Mistressworks" Women in SF meme (via [livejournal.com profile] psamphire). The idea is to bold books you're read and italicize those you've got but haven't read. Here's my version of the list.

I have also added asterisks (*) to the names of authors when I have read other, not the particular listed, books or works by the author. I'm a little disturbed at the number of authors I have never heard of before.

1 Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (1818)
2 Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)
3 Orlando, Virginia Woolf (1928)
4 Lest Ye Die, Cicely Hamilton (1928)
5 Swastika Night, Katherine Burdekin (1937)
6 Wrong Side of the Moon, Francis Leslie Ashton (1951) <- Not actually a woman...
7 The Sword of Rhiannon, Leigh Brackett (1953)
8 Pilgrimage: The Book of the People, Zenna Henderson (1961)
9 Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Naomi Mitchison* (1962)
10 Witch World, Andre Norton* (1963)
11 Sunburst, Phyllis Gotlieb (1964)
12 Jirel of Joiry, CL Moore (1969)
13 Heroes and Villains, Angela Carter (1969)
14 Ten Thousand Light Years From Home, James Tiptree Jr* (1973)
15 The Dispossessed, Ursula K Le Guin (1974)
16 Walk to the End of the World, Suzy McKee Charnas (1974)
17 The Female Man, Joanna Russ (1975)
18 Missing Man, Katherine MacLean (1975)
19 Arslan, MJ Engh (1976)
20 Floating Worlds, Cecelia Holland*(1976)
21 Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm (1976)
22 Islands, Marta Randall (1976)
23 Dreamsnake, Vonda N McIntyre (1978)
24 False Dawn, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro* (1978)
25 Shikasta [Canopus in Argos: Archives], Doris Lessing (1979)
26 Kindred, Octavia Butler (1979)
27 Benefits, Zoe Fairbairns (1979)
28 The Snow Queen, Joan D Vinge (1980)
29 The Silent City, Elisabeth Vonarburg (1981)
30 The Silver Metal Lover, Tanith Lee (1981)
31 The Many-Coloured Land [Saga of the Exiles], Julian May (1981)
32 Darkchild [Daughters of the Sunstone], Sydney J van Scyoc* (1982)
33 The Crystal Singer, Anne McCaffrey (1982)
34 Native Tongue, Suzette Haden Elgin (1984)
35 The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1985)
36 Jerusalem Fire, RM Meluch (1985)
37 Children of Anthi, Jay D Blakeney (1985)
38 The Dream Years, Lisa Goldstein (1985)
39 Despatches from the Frontiers of the Female Mind, Sarah Lefanu & Jen Green (1985)
40 Queen of the States, Josephine Saxton (1986)
41 The Wave and the Flame [Lear's Daughters], Marjorie Bradley Kellogg (1986)
42 The Journal of Nicholas the American, Leigh Kennedy (1986)
43 A Door into Ocean, Joan Slonczewski (1986)
44 Angel at Apogee, SN Lewitt (1987)
45 In Conquest Born, CS Friedman (1987)
46 Pennterra, Judith Moffett* (1987)
47 Kairos, Gwyneth Jones *(1988)
48 Cyteen, CJ Cherryh* (1988)
49 Unquenchable Fire, Rachel Pollack (1988)
50 The City, Not Long After, Pat Murphy (1988)
51 The Steerswoman [Steerswoman series], Rosemary Kirstein (1989)
52 The Third Eagle, RA MacAvoy* (1989)
53 Grass, Sheri S Tepper (1989)
54 Heritage of Flight, Susan Shwartz (1989)
55 Falcon, Emma Bull* (1989)
56 The Archivist, Gill Alderman (1989)
57 Winterlong [Winterlong trilogy], Elizabeth Hand (1990)
58 A Gift Upon the Shore, MK Wren (1990)
59 Red Spider, White Web, Misha (1990)
60 Polar City Blues, Katharine Kerr* (1990)
61 Body of Glass (AKA He, She and It), Marge Piercy (1991)
62 Sarah Canary, Karen Joy Fowler (1991)
63 Beggars in Spain [Sleepless trilogy], Nancy Kress (1991)
64 A Woman of the Iron People, Eleanor Arnason* (1991)
65 Hermetech, Storm Constantine* (1991)
66 China Mountain Zhang, Maureen F McHugh (1992)
67 Fools, Pat Cadigan (1992)
68 Correspondence, Sue Thomas (1992)
69 Lost Futures, Lisa Tuttle* (1992)
70 Doomsday Book, Connie Willis (1992)
71 Ammonite, Nicola Griffith (1993)
72 The Holder of the World, Bharati Mukherjee* (1993)
73 Queen City Jazz, Kathleen Ann Goonan (1994)
74 Happy Policeman, Patricia Anthony (1994)
75 Shadow Man, Melissa Scott* (1995)
76 Legacies, Alison Sinclair* (1995)
77 Primary Inversion [Skolian Saga], Catherine Asaro* (1995)
78 Alien Influences, Kristine Kathryn Rusch* (1995)
79 The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell (1996)
80 Memory [Vorkosigan series], Lois McMaster Bujold (1996)
81 Remnant Population, Elizabeth Moon* (1996)
82 Looking for the Mahdi, N Lee Wood (1996)
83 An Exchange of Hostages [Jurisdiction series], Susan R Matthews (1997)
84 Fool’s War, Sarah Zettel* (1997)
85 Black Wine, Candas Jane Dorsey (1997)
86 Halfway Human, Carolyn Ives Gilman (1998)
87 Vast, Linda Nagata* (1998)
88 Hand of Prophecy, Severna Park (1998)
89 Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson (1998)
90 Dreaming in Smoke, Tricia Sullivan (1999)
91 Ash: A Secret History, Mary Gentle (2000)
neile: (Default)
My mother taught me a rhyme about the first of May that I cannot repeat in polite company,1 but which I always think of all day on the first of May. Which might not be such a good idea when the day is accompanied by a board meeting, but so go the coincidences of timing. I think I managed not to embarrass myself. I waited until we were outside going to our cars to leave to quote the rhyme.

Meanwhile, it has been a week.

We have lost Joanna Russ. I only met her once, when we were helping a friend move into her house and I was tired and cranky and didn't want to explain who I was and I didn't have a clue who she was until well after I had been an idiot about who I was. However, I still wound up in an interesting conversation with her. I had read How To Suppress Women's Writing and A Female Man a few years before, and been bowled over and challenged and all. I wish I remembered more about that encounter, but it was in 1988 or so and I was lifting boxes at the time and I never did meet her again.

A sad loss. Losing her and Diana Wynne Jones so close together. Ouch.

On another topic, but still kind of book-related, when you look at my reading list you may wonder how I read so much. I *am* a fast reader and many of these books are on the shorter end of the book-length scale, but this is kind of crazy, is it not? How do I keep a busy life and still have time to read so much?

The answer is that I have traded sleep for reading. Yes, I have now reached an Advanced Age (52) and like so many other Elders I am plagued by insomnia. It has slowly become a bigger and bigger thing, and grown very bad in the last year, especially. I do occasionally take melatonin and 2 X 4s to the head (just joking on the latter), but mostly--after lying in bed and reading long enough to be absolutely certain I'm not going to nod off--I just go someplace a little more comfortable (I don't like lying down so very much unless I am sleeping) and read until I am so tired that I can confidently crawl back to bed and trust sleep to take me.

This means in my day-to-day life I frequently function on very little sleep. This is not doing my reputation for efficiency much good, but I think the honest truth is that I'd rather read than sleep.

There. I've said it.

Ever since I stopped remembering my dreams and started having to stick a machine on my face I have become less and less enamored of sleep--at least conventional, night-time and in-my-bed sleep. I still have a fondness for naps, but try not to allow them because they do interfere with proper sleep. Or so I'm told.

Yes, I know I should sleep more and better and that there are things I could and should be doing. Like not letting myself get up to read (though I suspect the alternative might be violence) and not letting myself sleep in on weekends, which all the experts say helps set me up for a round of jet lag and such.

But really, I love sitting up in the dark of night, cats asleep around me, Jim asleep downstairs, and reading a great book. Or even just a good one.

I know it is a self-indulgence and very Bad For Me in many ways, but damn I love it.

Now I'm going to be a good girl, take a melatonin because I not only slept late today but took a nap after the board meeting, and try to be good. Wish me luck.

-----

For my current listening, reading, and writing updates, see Les Semaines.
neile: (Default)
There's this really funny blog called Hyperbole and a Half, and one of the entries from last year explains my life. Check out This is Why I'll Never Be An Adult if you haven't already. Go on, I'll still be here when you get back. Or maybe once you've seen that you won't need to come back.

That is why I haven't posted anything here since January. I have been doing All The Things! Or rather, I have been trying and failing miserably to be doing All The Things. System failure has struck more than once.

I have such good intentions. I am going to keep up with email! Keep updating my blog! Do all the errands! Work! Write! All The Things! Yes, I have been surfing the internet like an attention-deficient squirrel on PCP.

I even sometimes did the banking.

So what have you missed? The months are a blur.

But!

I am doing things!

Someone clearly Isn't Paying Attention at the University of Washington because someone else has given me a freshman seminar to be in charge of. No one thought, "hey, wait, no one has given her her own class to be in charge of for a whole pile of years; maybe there is a reason for that?" No. No one thought of that. And no-one warned the students. So now, once a week I meet with a group of first-year university students and brainwash educate! them. I'm having a good time, even if I talk too much. They'd better watch out, because instead of talking I'm ready to listen.

The Clarion West class of 2011 has all been chosen and decided and invited and are preparing for their adventure. Exciting.

I've been listening to lots of cool, new music, and look at all the reading I have been doing (even if I haven't kept up with my reading comments). I've even been writing! But I haven't found the missing travel journal, so my retrospective journal section is still, sadly, empty.

Tune in next week to see if possibly keeping up with All The Things includes updating this journal. Only time will tell.
neile: (Default)
Well, they might not have used a bulldozer. I mean, the land is pretty steep, so a bulldozer would likely have been dangerous. No, I think they did use a bulldozer: the land is pushed around enough in parts.

My sister is visiting my parents, and they went to see (what was left of) the place I grew up, the house that my parents spent most of their married life in. A house they designed themselves and put a huge amount of sweat equity into. We moved in there when I was ten, and my parents moved out after I was married and settled in Seattle.

I dream of that house often.

She posted pictures on facebook. The house is still there. Damaged and neglected, but there.

But it was on the edge of an acre and a half of second-growth forest. Forest I spent much of my childhood playing in. Reading in. Making forts. Writing my first decent poems in. It was suburban, not pristine. And not first growth. There were old car seats in one place and I once found a truly explicit porn magazine in another and there were a lot of bottles from when kids had parties in the woods (one fort was named Fort Whiskey after the bottles there). But there were gorgeous dogwoods that bloomed outside our windows. A view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which probably is "better" now that all the trees have been razed.

The land is being subdivided. Or it would be, if anyone wanted to build on sand at the edge of a ravine in this housing market.

Fort Whiskey is gone. The alder that had a perfect branch to sit on right in front of its trunk so you could lean back on it. All the fallen cedars I used as trails. The moss. Those dogwoods. The zone of ferns. The nearly vertical trail at the edge of the property line. The cemetery area where a couple of my cats were buried. The currant bush that bloomed outside my bedroom window.

My cats' playground. My dream-ground. It's ugly now. And unused. Unnecessary. What a waste. A wasteland.

-----

For my listening, reading, and writing news, see Les Semaines.
neile: (Default)
The Year of Things Breaking continues.

This week it was first my main computer, which luckily was fixed by simply reinstalling the system software at the loss of only an afternoon and evening (install + download & install all the updates) rather than several hundred dollars. Okay. And so far so good.

Then it was our DSL modem, which has actually been annoying us for about a year now, slowing down, and needing rebooting, slowing down and needing rebooting, ad nauseum. We thought about buying a new one, so I emailed our ISP provider to see what he recommended, and he said to update the modem firmware.

Allrighty then. Always happy to try something that doesn't involve a new purchase, I endeavoured to do this thing, following website instructions. It failed. Modem now useless. I could see there was a link to tell me what to do if the update failed, but being modem-less, couldn't follow-up. I phoned Devin, who explained that it wanted me to download something. Which was of course impossible due to lack of modem functionality.

Our kind neighbours offered the use of their web connection, so I trudged through the snow (yes, it snowed here!) and downloaded the necessary software. Trudged back home and followed the annoying instructions, and...

...I didn't have all the info from our ISP to reset the modem settings. They close at 9:00. This was 9:12. And so. Stuck.

There went another evening.

Then next afternoon, however, once home from work I was able to phone, get settings, reset and carry on.

Please, let nothing else break. For a reasonable amount of time at least. I have a lot of deadlines.

Through all this I also discovered, much to my dismay (but sadly not surprise as I had long suspected this) that I am a computer-and-internet addict. It drives me unreasonably crazy not to have my computer working or my DSL connection. Crazy.

This can't be good.

-----

For my listening, reading, and writing updates, please see Les Semaines.
neile: (Default)
I've been starting off the year somewhat warily. Protecting my energies as much as I can, while at the same time getting things done. Last year started off not so well and ended up not being the best year ever, and so I'm a little nervous. The number 2010 looks so pretty I was sure it would be good and its looks deceived me. I hope 2011 will do better, despite my slight distrust of uneven numbers.

So I'm watching my step, here.

I'd like to post here a little more often, especially as a number of people have been saying they missed Les Semaines this year. Since I've been running Les Semaines for 11 years now I sometimes think I've run out of things to say, but that never stopped me talking, so we'll see what happens.

One thing I've been really bad about again is email, which is annoying after I was nearly caught up with it all a couple of months ago. Well, at least I've proven to myself that I can get my inbox back to a reasonable size, so I surely can do it again.

Jim got a strong and kind friend to help us take our heavy old non-functioning TV to a local electronics recycling event, and we took advantage of the event to raid the storage areas around the house and pull out the dead: a carousel CD player, the boom box that I used as computer speakers for many years despite its size and that the radio was the only part of it that still worked, my old Handspring Visor, Jim's second iPod (I think he's on this third at least), a SCSI zip drive (!) and various assorted cords, a CD-RW drive, and probably more that I can't recall. It's amazing how things accumulate.

Over his holiday break Jim had also cleared out the garage and made a trip to the dump with old non-recyclable stuff.

These two accomplishments inspired us to go through our furnace room and a storage space under the stairs and pull out ancient family suitcases, the cheapo cross-country skis we haven't used since we left Montana nearly 25 years ago, and the usual variety of clothes and odds and sods, and make a Goodwill donation run.

I was delighted with all this for a while, and still am that our dining room has grown larger again with the removal of the TV, but it's amazing how much still crowds us. I'm such a paper and book and CD and DVD packrat. Jim's not *quite* as bad as I am, though he does collect these things, too, just not in the numbers that I do. I would estimate that for every one thing that's his there's at least one that's ours and maybe two that are mine. Anyway, there's only two of us in this house who are responsible for bringing each and every little thing into this house. It's a bit terrifying after 17 years in a place. I've been working for a while on getting some of it back out.

We don't rival serious hoarders--just most cupboards and shelves are full up, especially bookshelves.

I am a little more organized now than I was on the past and am working on being more so. I'm also working on having more self-discipline, but I've been working on that all my life and the results haven't been impressive so far.

I find talking about current events pretty useless, especially here as by the time I post something issues have been talked out a zillion times all over the netiverse, but I have to say that Keith Olbermann's comments are important and I wish everyone would pay attention to them. Especially the people who wouldn't want to listen to him in the first place. How we work that miracle I don't know, but I sure would like to see that in this new year.

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For my comments on my recent listening, reading, and writing activities, please check out Les Semaines.
neile: (Default)
In my favourite reads of 2010 list I forgot to list Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death, because I forgot to put it in my "books read" list.

This is definitely one of the top contenders for my favourite book I read this past year, so I'm especially chagrined I forgot it.

I hope I didn't miss out any other book that was that important to me.
neile: (Default)
[This was posted at my home site just before midnight last night.]

It says something about this year--but I'm not entirely sure what--that this is my first entry since August.

It's approaching midnight, so I'm trying to thinking about the 365 days past. Family stuff has been rough, between my parents' health (they're doing okay now) and some other issues in the way that lives go. Mom and Dad were doing well when we saw them a week ago, so I hope that continues. Other things seem more stable now, too.

Other than that, really, nothing much changed. We're still very married, healthy, employed in the same jobs. We're know how lucky we are, though none of this has been stress-free (especially ongoing budget cuts at work).

The end-of-year financial reports say the economy is finally starting to pick up, and I'm sure it's due to us, because this is the year that things broke and had to be replaced, including:

* my computer monitor (only two years old)
* my graphics card (are these related?)
* our fridge
* our stove
* our espresso machine
* our tv
* a car tire (one of four bought new this summer)

However, our 24-year-old microwave is still going strong, one of the few kitchen appliance survivors at ours. I'm grateful for everything else that keeps working as expected (washer and dryer, other computers, phones, etc., that means you).

I just finished writing our annual holiday letter/poems this afternoon. Yes, we're running late this year. I hope they'll all arrive before Epiphany (January 6, the Twelfth Day of Christmas). What I like best about doing these is taking the moment I'm writing the note on them to focus on the people they're addressed to, my relationship with them, and thinking what I wish them for the year ahead. Sending out annual wishes.

So right now I wish for anyone who reads this a healthy, prosperous, fun, and adventurous year full of love, friends, and dreams come true.

Happy New Year.

* * * * *

A list of my favourite music of the year can be found here.

A list of my favourite books read this year can be found here.

A list of my limited writing accomplishments this year can be found here.
neile: (Default)
It's a Hot Day. It's the centre of my month to myself. This has been quite a year, quite. Dear Les Semaines, it has been nearly six months since my last confession.

The workshop has been over for two+ weeks and I have not yet been able to settle down to work. Of course, we've had a houseguest and then I was ladder ballast while Jim sanded, primed and painted the facia on the east and west sides of the house, but I have no excuse today. Except it's Hot.

Luckily, we have a breeze.

It's not that I have accomplished nothing. I have done a lot of reading. I have had a spa treatment! Massage and moisturizing and so now I am a modern spa-ed woman! And this very day I shortened the sleeves of a jacket that has needed shortening for so long that the part I cut off had gone all ragged. But I did it.

And now I'm about to go and celebrate Devin's birthday, which was yesterday.

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Check out Les Semaines for, umm, some book comments! Yeah, there's content there. Click for slacker reviews of (AKA my reader's comments on) Ian McDonald's The Dervish House, Stephanie Burgis's A Most Improper Magic and Maggie Steifvater's Linger, all three of which I loved. LOVED. You should read them, too.

Oh, and in the music world I'm loving Emily Portman's (the U.K. one)'s album the glamoury, a gorgeous album of traditional and neo-traditional music, kind of a cross between The Unthanks and Lisa Knapp. Gorgeous. Go listen to this. Samples at her MySpace page.
neile: (Default)
The write-a-thon and the workshop are over. Fastest. Six. Weeks. Ever. The workshop's six weeks feels like there's a lifetime packed into them and yet they race past. The write-a-thon, because I have to tuck it into the corners of workshop busyness, definitely feels the same way.

Going on from here, my plan is to try to continue the minimum two submissions a week thing and to try to get a new draft of a poem a week, whether it's a revision or a first draft.

August is my month to start revising my second novel, as well. I haven't started yet, but will tomorrow as I still have some loose ends from the workshop to tidy up.

So for this final week my printer still isn't working so I emailed a batch of poems to an online magazine and yet another manuscript query. My draft was another iteration of the first chapter of my novel.

Done! Like dinner! And so another workshop and write-a-thon ends. I need a really, really, REALLY long nap.
neile: (Default)
So, Week 5. So if week 4 was exhaustion, this week was kind of about faking it, or slipping through, or coping with not quite enough gumption maybe? Because remember when I said I sent four manuscript queries last week? Well, I'm stealing two of those to count for this week because I didn't manage to send anything out this week. I blame my broken printer but that doesn't really account for me not then finding a way to send something out by email. I hope you're feeling forgiving.

But to make up for it, this week I wrote TWO small poems. And they're both new. They're acrostics, a form I never played with before.

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The first one spells out "Ravenage", an archaic form for, well, pillage, basically. Here are the first nearly four lines:

Trickster

Raven: bird of paradox, the transformer, transplanting
Antagonist of his own fictions, unpredictable as seasons
Venal, voracious, vandalous creator, mischievous glutton of
Everything lustrous, everything slick with life's fat.

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This one spells out "The Empty City", which is the working title of the novel I plan to start revising in August:

The awakening. Face in rubble and rough weeds. Alone.
Her lover gone as though he had never been. Her anger as
Empty walls crumble around her like a whitewashed face.

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As always sponsors and cheerleaders get to see the full poems. So lucky they are!
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