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Ah, Week 4. How I recall the pain when the workshop seems to have been going on forever and there's still miles to go before we can sleep. It was a struggle to write this week. To find time to write, then when I did have time, to concentrate.

Still, I sent out four manuscript queries.

And I tussled through a new draft of a poem I've been having a rough time with. I'm really struggling with these poems that come from Pacific NW myth--I don't want to tell someone else's myth, but want to write about my own interaction with it. It's hard to figure where the line is. Each poem has its own. For right now, I'm okay with this one.

Ask me again tomorrow.


Cannibal Spirit

I speak from myself now.
The milky way my tether. Below me
the thin coastline, so overshadowed

by forest by mountain by me.


[and it continues. sponsors and cheerleaders saw the whole thing, such as it is.]
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I stuck in a recent poem, and got

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Then I tried the story I'm currently reconstructing, and got

I write like
Chuck Palahniuk

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

neile: (Default)
Last week I forgot to report on my submissions: I sent out a query to an agent for my novel and a query to a publisher for my poetry manuscript. This week I sent out two poetry submissions. One of the latter was actually sent on paper! How charmingly archaic!

This was a busy, busy week, and once again I have to thank the Write-a-thon that I felt compelled to do anything about my writing career at all. It's a little embarrassing how much accountability motivates me.

I spent as many hours as I could, including an afternoon-long writing retreat on Saturday, working on a total re-envisioning of my first short story I wrote (since I was 15 years old, people!) at Clarion West. It had lain fallow for lo! these many years until it started nagging at me during the first week of this year's workshop. I don't think this is coincidence.

However, I am not counting that as this week's draft because I am nowhere near finishing the re-draft. So, this week's draft (for my 2 submissions + draft) is a poem mixing NW Coast and Scottish myth about Salmon. I had a wonderful salmon meal with Leslie Howle, Graham Joyce, and Nnedi Okorafor (the latter two are this year's third- and fourth-week Clarion West instructors) and two other local writers, and I think my sockeye salmon inspired me to making something of what was a very nothing poem. I hope you agree because the draft is below. I still don't think I'm quite finished with this one, but it's closer.



Salmon Versus Raven East and West

How the salmon glow like swords
--Richard Hugo

The wisdom of salmon is endings. How else
to explain not alpha but Omega 3?

Salmon embrace the gateway of death
how else to become truly wise?

[and it continues. sponsors and cheerleaders saw the whole thing, such as it is.]
neile: (Default)
Hello, 2:45 am, my old friend. Yes, that's when I finished this week's write-a-thon commitment. The timing is my own fault, of course. I made my submissions (2 queries for different manuscripts) earlier in the week then I'd started to revise a short story but realized that there was no way I would manage to complete the revision by Sunday night, so I thrashed around for a long time trying to figure out what to do.

But thanks to the commitment I'd made to the write-a-thon, I finally figured out that some notes I'd made for a short story were really for a narrative poem, so last night I pushed through and made myself finish a first draft. (My commitment for the w-a-t is 2 submissions + 1 draft each week.)

I'm really grateful for the w-a-t, because otherwise I would have slept instead, which would have felt briefly rewarding, but nowhere near as rewarding as actually completing something I hadn't expected to. Who knew I wanted to write a fairy tale in the voice of Mother Death? That's weird.

But now I have a new poem. Here's the first stanza (first draft, remember please):


The owl's voice buffets the night with its tumbling roll
and the emptiness between. It sends its call out for me:
red rover red rover, I call him over.


I'm not sure I can bear to do this each week--I guess it depends on the draft--but sponsors and cheerleaders got to see the whole poem.
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To support the Clarion West Write-a-thon the marvelous Michael Swanwick was offering a limited number of tuckerizations (using a person's name in an original story as a kind of in-joke) in exchange for donations.

I could not resist. Here I am, tuckerized in a story called "Viking Graffiti."
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As most of you already know, I'm participating in the Clarion West Write-a-Thon this year.

My modest goal this year is two + one = two submissions + one new draft or major re-draft. It's definitely a challenge to me to keep submissions out in the mail at any time, but I'm pushing that a little farther to keep drafting new work in the midst of running the writing workshop.

This week I met my goals by sending out a novel query to an agent, a poetry submission to a new online magazine, and I kind of faked the draft business as at the last minute I realized there was a grant deadline I wanted to catch so my draft for the first week was a grant project statement.

Any support, no matter how small, moral or financial, is welcome. There are two ways you can help:

1. Pledge towards my goals. The Write-a-Thon is a fundraiser for the Clarion West Writing Workshop. You can pledge as much or as little as you want: $1/week, $2/week, $5/week, $25/week, or just a flat sum. Friends putting their money where my mouth is is highly motivating. Please don't feel obligated to pledge--but if you'd like to do so, you're supporting a wonderful non-profit organization dedicated to developing new writers. Donations are tax-deductible.

2. Offer support and encouragement. This is just as important to me as pledges.

Either way, let me know if you'd like me send you a weekly email with updates on my Write-a-Thon progress. I want to send out some sort of small thank-you gift to sponsors, so if you don't already have a copy of my poetry CD, I will come up with something else: maybe a lavender sachet from my garden. Or maybe an exclusive poetry broadside/flyer.

To make things easy, Clarion West has given us each our own write-a-thon page and PayPal buttons. I can certainly take checks, or you can send them directly to Clarion West (P.O. Box 31264, Seattle WA 98103-1264), but if you find the web more convenient, my PayPal buttons are located on my Clarion West W-a-t page.

Or you can see if there's someone else you'd like to sponsor (there are a lot of wonderful writers participating this year) at Clarion West's write-a-thon page:

Thanks for reading this!

2010 Clarion West Write-a-thon
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Last night was the first night of the workshop, and the class was all there and so ready to begin. There's all this work, this anticipation, then...let's get started already. Then it pours down.

Michael Bishop had a lot of things to say to the class. Some of it immediately absorb-able and some requiring pondering, all of it interesting, useful, and worth thinking about. In addition to using short stories, he has been using (mostly narrative but not all) poetry to teach about fiction. Beautiful to watch for a poetry-lover like me. I have been fascinated by the process.

He left the class with an exercise that they needed to turn in this morning. The stories that came out of the exercise were remarkable; half of them they discussed this morning in class. I feel privileged to be a spy at the back of the room during the workshop.

In support of the workshop, Clarion West is again running its Write-a-thon. I am again participating. My page is here. I would be delighted if you want to cheer me on and/or if you want to sponsor me to keep me working. I would be just as please if you choose to sponsor someone else, though. It's only $6 to sponsor someone a dollar a week for the six weeks of the workshop. Every little bit helps keep the workshop happening every year.

Clarion San Diego is also running a Write-a-thon in support of their workshop, starting this upcoming weekend.
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1. First Atia knocks over Jim's breakfast coffee. I wake from my 6:00 am couch doze to the swear words. No, I don't learn any new ones, which is somewhat disappointing.

2. Then get to work to discover my backpack dripping with tea. The thermos hadn't been closed properly. Luckily, no electronics are harmed in the course of these events and there are few other casualties.

3. Our neighbour is suddenly painting her house and we discover the hard way that branches from a little tree we put in between our houses were in her way. Suddenly there is a pile of branches on the ground and the tree requires immediate damage control.


I have done so much email, paper-organizing and paper-clipping in the last few days that my arms hurt. They want not to move. However, moving they must do.

Today is my last day at the UW until September. Yes, that means that this afternoon is move-in for the Clarion West Writers Workshop! It can't possibly be mid-June already. Even the weather says it's still February.
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Yesterday when Jim came home from work he announced there was a box of junk on our doorstep. I went out to look, and on top of a box of miscellaneous mostly joke items but a few DVDs and some paperwork was an empty padded mailer addressed to me.

The mailer was something I had been expecting from (though I had expected a book inside it); the rest of the junk was unfamiliar.

Police were telephoned. One arrived, prodded the stuff and said it wasn't worth enough for him to be bothered about, leaving us to dispose of it.

Sleuth that I am, I read the label on the box and on the paperwork and got a name and partial address. The phone book provided a number. The box owner didn't live there anymore, but now lived in our neighbourhood, and this was his new phone number. So another call, the the neighbour arrives. The box of stuff had been stored in his carport down our alley.

Aha! Mail thief had struck our house and rolled down the alley, grabbed the box to see if it held anything interesting, gotten bored with it and dumped it somewhere nearby (though the DVDs in there were surely worth more than the book that the thief took which sells on amazon for a penny). Then someone saw my address on the envelope and dumped the box on our doorstep.

So, no book but at least no box of junk. Today I will take the empty envelope to the post office and whine at them.

Too much excitement, especially after I had witnessed a drug deal half a block from our house the afternoon before.

I hope there's no point in staying tuned for further adventures. That would be good.
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So what have I been doing that I've been silent so long? Good question. I have to admit, I've been wondering that myself.

Well for one it's application season again, both in my day job and for Clarion West. So there has been all of the usual work for that: paperwork and meetings and checking things off and tracking with evaluators. Lots of record-keeping. I feel like a record-keeping demon.

The Clarion West deadline is tomorrow night (March 1) at midnight, so applications are coming in thick and fast. I've been kind of obsessed with watching my email the last couple of days, especially, because I Do Not Want To Get Behind with them, because thereby lies grief.

What else? I visited my parents in Victoria and my sister came from Alberta, and the four of us were together alone for the first time since she got married for the first time in 1974. After that there was always someone, a spouse, a child. It was actually very cool and enjoyable, even if we did have to get some serious things done while we were there. I am one of the lucky few who likes my family. Yes, I know I'm blessed.

I appreciate this blessing more and more as I and my parents get older.

I've been making more effort to connect with friends we haven't seen for a while. I miss them. I know it's important that we get work done, but it's also important to hang out with fun people.

We also have been helping Devin move, from a small, north-facing ground-level cave to a top-story, large and bright apartment. I am jealous of her nearly 180-degree view. She can see Mount Rainier and a bit of the Space Needle! Sunsets and mountains! Well, sunrises, too, but I don't think she's seen too many of those.

I've been thinking about writing an entry here. Each Sunday I think of it. Then I haven't been doing it. Tonight, I did. I have several things in mind that I want to write about, so I hope I don't get distracted again.

For my listening, reading (lots of reading), and writing updates, see Les Semaines.
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If I had superstitions about the year continuing as it started out, I would be sad now. We had a very quiet New Year's Eve, followed by a lovely dinner with Devin and Tamar, two of my favourite people on the planet, so that was good. But my back has been painful since last week when we went to a movie and the theatre had those seats that lean back. My back likes to sit up straight. I should have used my backpack or packed my coat behind me more effectively because the next day at work when I was bending down to staple pages I'd just picked up from the printer I felt my back go out. It went into spasm and has been annoying ever since.

I gently did exercises and moved often, but still...this was the worst it has been in years and years. It's almost better at last--nearly two weeks later.

I would say getting older sucks, but my back first went bad when I was 21 and tried to lift a table saw at work when I couldn't get anyone to help me and the customer who bought it was getting impatient. It's never been quite that bad since, and I'm SO grateful.

This has also been a complicated time for family and friends' physical and emotional health, and I have to say I hope the year doesn't hold too much more of this. I'm full up. It feels like ten months rather than ten days in. Am I allowed to be tired of 2010 already?

I hope things calm down and that my stressed reaction to them does, too. It's wearing me out, and the year is still an infant. Maybe that's it--infants are exhausting, right? And they can still grow up to be entertaining and fun and bring good things into people's lives? Right?

2010, grow up already.


For my recent listening, a long catch-up reading list, and writing news, see Les Semaines.

neile: (Default)
[Posted just before midnight at Les Semaines.]

So, we're well beyond thanks and Xmas and leaning toward the New Year. Again, weeks slipped by on me. I have very little of account to say for myself, sorry. We had a good Thanksgiving and Xmas made me very grateful for family, my parents and our nephew, Mark. I'm looking forward to more family tomorrow.

It's approaching midnight, so now I'm thinking about the year that is almost past in its arbitrary 365 days way.

This is the year that was. We got through it. It wasn't the worst year ever, though losing Jim's father was hard. We're still married, employed, financially solvent, mostly healthy. Not so very many of our friends are in the same situation, so we feel very lucky.

We still have dreams and we're still working toward them and hoping for more luck to help them come true.

May your coming year be healthy, prosperous, full of love, friends, and dreams come true.

That's about all there is to say.


For my 2009 listening, reading, and writing lists, see Les Semaines.
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In 2009, neile resolves to...
Ask my boss for a clarion.
Connect with my inner miyazaki.
Pay for my fairy tales on time.
Apply for a new music.
Put fifty ectophiles a month into my savings account.
Lose ten cats by March.

Get your own New Year's Resolutions:
neile: (Default)

  • Neile needs to accept that she doesn't fit in with the other beautiful women

  • Neile needs to lighten up on the boobcancer crap

  • Neile needs not to wait too long

  • Neile needs not to go on forever weighing up the pros and cons of these decisions

  • Neile needs not to worry about a few tiny 'irregularities' in this sphere

  • Neile needs to watch the hazy beauty of October leaves and softly sleep

  • Neile needs to get in touch with you real quick

  • Neile needs a Hammer and Nails and a Bucket of Paint

Bonus points: guess which one was really about me personally.
neile: (Default)
Look at this!

A watery view out our front window, making the fall colours of our smoke bush look like a watercolour.

We're having some pretty serious November here. Storms blowing through with lots of rain and wind and hail. One night I couldn't sleep because the frequent lightning flashes were like someone strafing a flashlight across my face again and again. There is some glorious sun and beautiful skies then more rain rain rain. Good thing I like rain.

Had a busy but weekend in sunny San Jose at World Fantasy Con, where I saw loads of people I'd wanted to see but missed many others. Damn. I had a good time but I was hoping to meet some people I knew were there, but I never managed to. We had a fun Clarion West get-together, fun dinners, parties, hanging out talk talk talking.

Then the fates gave me nearly a week of normal life again until, when Jim and I were watching Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire dance in Roberta, I suddenly started coughing. Chills and fever followed, and I kept that fever for a week. A week, people! I don't think I've ever had a fever that long before. Luckily the Wednesday was officially a holiday, or I would have burned through five days of sick leave rather than four. Yet another week later I still have a cough from it, but I'm so happy not to have a fever I don't mind. Really, I don't. *Cough, cough*

November is whipping past so fast I can't grab hold of it to make it slow down so I can catch up.


For my recent listening, reading, and writing adventures, see Les Semaines.

neile: (Default)
How things are around here while my head is in manuscripts (poetry and fiction): Edit edit edit; tweak twist cut.

I'm proofreading, really. An intense proofreading to see if this deep cut works. It's nearly 1/3 shorter. It's 100,000 words instead of 136,000 (150,000 at its true height).

It's getting obsessive. Jim has been helping, too, by reading each chapter as I finish it, and on Friday night, by tearing the poetry manuscript (The Walk She Takes) apart. I'm having some trouble facing putting it back together again. We'll see. Maybe I'm just tired. Or maybe having trouble switching gears from the novel.

We also made jam this weekend. Three batches, only two of which set. Anyone want some spiced apricot-raspberry syrup?

Things around here have also been kind of like this:

Late tomatoes.

Three cats! Together! Titus looks a little nervous, but Sophia and Atia are reading the news.
neile: (Default)
...and many happy returns!

Wishing her all the joy and awakening her books and essays have given me over the years.

Long may she reign!
neile: (Default)
Clear light. Changing leaves. Wind. October is one of my favourite months. Especially one like this, when the rainy part hasn't quite hit yet and there's lots of sun and gorgeous sunsets. It's cool but not cold.

Events of note: I have now been in this (evolving) job for twenty years. That's *20* years, folks! I started it, half-time, running one certificate program, twenty years ago. Now I have two plus a doctoral program and I'm at 64.5% time (25 hours a week). I'm still a little astonished about it--my record before this was, I think, 16 *months* in one job. Second event: birthday. Which was fun. I have some fine friends. Third event: see novel news below.

If only I could kick this *warning: danger ahead* high-anxiety mode I've been in. I just get myself calmed down and something will happen to put my brain on *alert* mode again and I've got to talk myself down, which isn't so easy. If it weren't for this, life would be sweet. I finally finished paring the novel down. I've been working on poems. The weather is gorgeous, I've had some good times with friends, took a day off with Jim to putter around and run errands. Had a lemon poppyseed cheesecakes made by Jim's hands, backbrain is still saying *warning: incoming doom*. Therre's no real reason. Sure, I'm busy, but when not? I don't understand why I'm in this mode. Just am.



For quick notes on my listening, reading, and writing, see Les Semaines.

neile: (Default)
And so, September went by and barely had time to say a word in passing. Or rather, I barely had time to say a word (here at least) in September.

It has been back to work. Back to working my life around work.

I'd forgotten, or erased from memory, how difficult it is to get things done during the academic year when I'm back at work. I mean things aside from the daily necessities of life, but kind of including them, too. It doesn't make sense. I only work five hours a day. But after work, after the (admittedly short) commute, errands, the necessary phone calls, I often find myself not getting to lunch until 3:00 or so...and by that time I'm starving because I had breakfast before 7:00. Or when I eat it at work, before 8:00.

Trying to fit in an hour of writing time each day is difficult, but damn I'm doing at least that if it kills me. And don't laugh, because it sometimes does. I could so easily be buried under a pile of books (the library's and mine own) that are piled up waiting to be read, or choke on the growing and accumulating dust mice, or get tangled in cobwebs that already festoon the chandelier in the dining room. I already trip on cat toys. Oh, and cats. Who want to emphatically point out that feeding cats isn't optional. Nor is not playing with, or holding, or not petting enough.

Other possibilities include being foreclosed on for not making mortgage payments, malnutrition because we're eating out of the pantry and freezer, starving when that runs out because I haven't gone grocery shopping.

Well, okay, I did pay the bills, despite them forgetting to put me back on the payroll. Oops. A bit of a surprise on the payday that wasn't, I have to say. But they did fix it quickly.

And I wrote a grant application and even sent it in a day early. You can be as proud of me as you like.

So that was September. And now, ready or not, here comes October.

[The original date on this post--the day I started writing it--was September 9th. Oh well.]


For quick updates on my listening, reading, and writing, see Les Semaines.

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