it’s curtains for me

In November and December the thermometer dipped down, the winds whipped
around our house, and the drafts began.  Our house has really
effecient furances (somebody doubled the size of the house in the 70s
and instead of redoing the ductwork in the original house just added a
separate furnace) and decent insulation, but not so great
windows.  Also, we’re incredibly deficient in curtains. 
Several rooms had none at all, and those that did tended to have really
hideous blinds, many of them vertical. My first act on moving in two
years ago was to take them all down.  Unfortunately, I didn’t put
anything back up, chosing instead to study each room and decide what
would be best, then redo each room one by one.

Or so I said.  Mostly necessity has forced my hand in each room to
gain curtains: first my daughter became afraid of shadows, and as she
already had a pretty curtain rod, all it took was a trip to
Target.  $60 later I had three purple paisley Simply Chic panels
put up, and they’ve served well since.  Next came our bedroom —
what forced my hand there was my husband’s first overnight shift at the
hospital.  To effectively sleep during the day, he was going to
need some light blocking curtains.  This time I had to buy a
curtain rod as well, so $100 and a trip to JC Penney later, we had
curtains in our bedroom.

Everything pretty much came to a standstill until this fall when those
winds started whipping around.  The drafts started up, but we kept
the theromstat down in an effort to save money.  So with the house
set at 64, 66 on a really cold day, I sat in the family room with
frozen fingers, the draft of the sliding door and three sets of badly
installed windows whipping around me.  I was cold, but I was also
cheap.  I didn’t want blinds in the family room, I wanted rich,
thick, room-darkening, insulating curtains — and with that sliding
door, it was going to be pricey.  Best I could manage was a really
ugly panel and $150 minimum for curtain and hardware to cover the door
— alone.  And since I wanted the other windows to match, I was
going to break $500 really fast.  All this and I wasn’t getting
the rich, pretty fabric I wanted.

I managed to get to fabric.com and
find some very nice chenille upholstery fabric on clearance: for less
than $100 (with shipping!) I got nearly 20 yards of fabric, and with it
a brainstorm.  You see, our family room is very cozy, but has no
doors and opens into a long, long hallway leading to the toyroom, the
downstars bathroom, and the basement.  It also opens into the
original part of the house, which features an open dining and living
area.  So part of my cozy family room is a hallway which in its
full expanse well over 100 feet long.  Maybe even 150 feet. 
Not so good with the feng shui.  My brainstorm was to put up two
panels at the natural borders of the family room, closing it off. 
It would make it homier and have a practical function as well: in the
winter we could run the fireplace or a space heater and have a lot of
heat in a small space.  But once the fabric box came (Over six
feet long!  That impressed the UPS man.), I didn’t exactly jump up
and start sewing.  I didn’t have any hardware, and I really suck
at putting that stuff up.  I asked my FIL to do it, and my
husband, and we all talked about it a lot, but it never happened. 

Then it became January at we got our December heating bill.

$300!  For just the natural gas!!!  Here I am, freezing my
ass off, and I’m STILL paying $300!  Boy did that piss me off —
enough, in fact, to start me sewing, and get me to Lowes and get fires
under my husband and FIL.  And now I have curtains. 

I can make the family room dark as night at noon, if I choose.  I
have rich, gorgeous jaquard-print chenille curtains: gold on red for
the windows and door, and cream on olive for the  hallway
sections.  (Those are impressive, at nearly 8′ in length.) 
The curtains hang from ridiculously simple hoop-and-clips from Lowe’s,
on very lovely gold rods, from the same.  The family room is very
cozy and elegant.  But most importantly — it is WARM.

Because I also bought a small heater at Target for $40.  In less
than five mintues this room, whose theromstat is set at 60, can be so
toasty you’re tempted to take off your socks.  Since the
hall-blocking curtains went up, I’ve kept the house at 60 degrees or
less and used this room as a warm-up place.  At this very moment
I’ve moved my laptop in here.  Most of the cats are in here, my
daughter has PBS going while she plays with her Playmobil, and we’re at
a very comfortable 70 degrees.  I’m even considering turning the
sucker to low, because I’m almost hot.

I have no idea how much money I’m going to save, and the electric bill
will probably go up a bit.  But I’m not cold anymore, and I have
very pretty curtains.  And I made them myself, which in the middle
of the project seemed like a damn stupid idea, but now that it’s done,
my frugal heart beams with pride at how fricking awesome they look.

Ha.

mini-zen

I have no idea how I got here, but I seem to have stumbled into a
little pocket of zen, and I have to say, I hope it sticks around a
bit.  It’s the damndest thing — life is whirling around at a
frenetic pace all around me, there’s stuff like insanity everywhere I
look, my schedule is really busy, and yet I’m getting a lot done on a
lot of fronts, I’m getting in a lot of reading, a lot of family time,
we have clean clothes, and food in the fridge.

Seriously — I spent all last week beating one scene into place, and
now I’m on scene five (this is a revision thing, so there’s a lot of
insertion.  I haven’t written four scenes in four days.) and
moving steadily forward, but I’m only working in the mornings. 
It’s like I have extra time or something.  Like somehow time is
bending for me into just the right shape, and I’m calmly, happily
walking through it, getting done what needs to be done and occasionally
bending over to smell some flowers at my feet.

There is a part of me that desperately wants to analyze and figure out
how I’ve done this so I can bottle it and do it again, but then I
remember the manna.  You know, the Bible is good for a lot of
things, and that manna story is a good one.  When you get gifts
from the gods, DO NOT try and sneak extra helpings.  Just be damn
glad food is falling from the sky and enjoy it while it lasts.  So
I’m enjoying my manna and reading a lot of Prachett.  I’ve started
buying them, because it must be done.  I want Hogfather again soon
(reading Soul Music just now) and then I”m going to want to see Granny
and Nanny again.

Something is coming, though, and that’s not a reference to The
Christmas Invasion, Whovians.  I just have this sense.  April
or May, (maybe March, but I try not to think about that, too close)
something is coming.  I keep dreaming about it.  Last night I
dreamt that I was in a color guard at the church where I was baptized
and confirmed, and somehow this was all related to some online groups
I’m on.  I was a “senior” and I was in charge of the program, and
whenever someone dropped a ball I had to go pick it up. 

The coolest thing was there were all these flags that had to go up
front before the service started: the Lutheran flag was there, and the
American flag, but there was also a Human Rights flag and a transgender
flag, and I carried the latter.  I remembered in the dream being
really glad our group was so diverse that we had a transgender
flag.    But then they were about to start the service
and nobody had brought up the American flag, though everybody was
standing and ready like it had already gone past, so I hurried back and
picked it up and ran with it flapping all the way up.  Then I went
back to find the rest of the ushers.

Except I kept crying because it was my last program, like I was about
to graduate.  And after that I woke up, and it was like somebody
whispered “something’s coming.”

You know, at this point aliens would actually be easier to take. 
Because my gut keeps saying, “your whole life is going to change” and
won’t tell me why or how (actually, I think it’s that I won’t let me tell me why or how) and it’s everything in me not to be a baby and say, “but I like my life!”

So I’m holding on to this pocket of zen and refusing steadfastly to
think about April, excepting that we may be traveling in April and that
will be fun.

What is normal?

Eowyn broke her hand again the other day.  This would be my Eowyn action figure, picked
up at Target a little over a year ago. 
She sits on my writing altar, which you can find here.  I actually have a Buffy from “Once More
With Feeling” now as well, as I have the coolest husband on the
planet. 

But Eowyn broke her hand, and it’s defying being put back
on.  As I’m a symbol wonk, I’m trying
not to read too much into this, but it’s hard, especially as this week writing
has been well beyond pulling teeth and into removing gall bladder sort of
trauma.  Add to this the Trouble With
Blair and I’m downright paranoid.

Blair is the alpha cat in our house.  We are insane and have five, four male.  This is no doubt part of our problem, and
trust me, NOBODY is getting in now, but it’s too late to turn back on the five
who are here. But Blair is stressed: between moving two years ago, the
disastrous Dog Experiment a year ago, and Sidney, the cat who came to dinner
and never left, he was bad enough, but it was a woman who pushed him over the
edge.  Cookie, a neighborhood cat who
delights in tormenting our cats from our porch, the sliding glass door, and
anywhere she can.

And now Blair is so stressed out and angry that he’s got
blood in his urine, and it burns and makes him crankier, so he pees wherever
the hell he can.  Of course, to discover
this we had to send him to the vet for two days and lock him alone in a very
small cage with no litter box so he would pee through the grate and they could
test it – I’m sure this did tons for his mental state.  When I picked him up today I felt like I was
rescuing someone from Auschwitz, which is terribly unfair to our vet because
she is wonderful, but Blair I think does not share this sentiment.

So I’m looking at getting two more Comfort Zones which is no small purchase, btw, but they really work.  We’ve already shelled out for some weird
powdery stuff for his food which he of course has already refused.  (Let’s see how he feels tomorrow morning
after I’ve put up the food for the night and this is his only option.  Also good for the mental state, I’m
sure.)  We’re already giving up on
administering the antibiotic twice daily and Dan is going back tomorrow to beg
for shots, swearing he knows how to prep and administer them.  (He does, he’s a pharmacist.)  We’re trying to give him extra attention and
keep the other cats from bugging him while not infringing on his manhood.

Why does this already feel like a losing battle?

Add to this a four year old who has launched into her
most manic phase yet and what do you have? 
If you said optimum conditions for getting through a slaggy spot in the
writing process, you would have guessed incorrectly.  And yet through all this I prevailed and tonight I managed to
rough out the new scene one to the WIP. 
I sent it to my wonderful, fabulous critique partner
so it even feels official. 
Then I treated myself to reading one more scene of her WIP (it rocks,
you should all drool) which turned into reading four because it is just that
good. 

Of course, at 6:30 you could not have gotten me to believe
by 9PM I’d be sitting here zen as hell, calmly swilling my lime mineral water
straight from the liter bottle.  The
Jameson’s I had at 6:45 helped for awhile, but I think in the end it was the
chaos that set me straight, weirdly enough. I mean, if it were ever actually “normal” here,
I’m sure I wouldn’t recognize it.  In
fact, this is pretty par – several disasters at once, Voice of Doom always
ready to broadcast the end of the world (which if you watch enough Buffy and Doctor
Who doesn’t impress you after about a season of each) – honestly, I think I’d
be twitchier if it were quiet around here for a week.  Little moments of aberration are fine, but really, life is a
royal mess by nature, so looking for constant zen is pretty much like asking to
be dead.  The good stuff always falls in
the cracks, so you’ve got to dig through all the weird stuff to get there.  And as we all know, it’s the digging and the
anticipating that is the real ride, not the getting to the stuff at the end.

Now if I can translate this to my fiction I might just be
able to make a career out of my neurosis. 
Now that’s a crack I want to fall down into.  I think.

Love makes the world go round

This weekend I saw two movies, Brokeback Mountain and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Each is the darling of a polar end of the political spectrum, or so the
media would have you believe.  Actually, I have convservative
friends whom I know will probably see Brokeback
and love it, and I know a lot of far lefties who will see the Narnia
flick and adore it as well.  Which makes a lot of sense, as when I
came out of TLTWATW this afternoon my first thought was that both those
movies had the same core message: love one another.

I didn’t recall that being the central message of the Lewis versions so
explicitly, but they made a big deal of it in the film version. 
And for all the jokes about gay cowboys and Ledger and what’shisface’s
protetations of how hard it was to be gay, the message of Brokeback Mountain
is not that it’s okay to be gay as much as it is that it’s okay to be
yourself and that you should take love where you find it and not let it
pass you by.  So, love one another.

Only people so ferverently on message to their respective radicalism
could see either movie and do anything but say, “Wow, that touched
me.”  Of course, Brokeback will make you bawl your head off while
you say it, but still, it’s very touching.  So is Narnia. 

It does make me sad that we live in a world that two dueling parties
back two films that have such similar base messages, but we can’t get
behind each other and celebrate those similarities. 

Okay, time to go watch Doctor Who again.

God, but he’s hot.

The POV of the Doctor

Warning: this entry has great gobs of spoilers for Doctor Who, though
little of it is about plot and most if it is about character.
Personally I’d say if you haven’t watched it and plan to you should
skip it. I wrote this up for my own purposes, but I liked how it turned
out so I thought I’d post it in case there’s somebody desperately
trolling for Doctor Talk, which I sympathize with totally.
Here it is.

**

To us, the Doctor is an alien.  To
him he’s not, though, he’s just himself. 
He’s normal to him, he’s himself.His normal is radically different from everybody else,
though.  By most people’s sense he’d be
at the time of a linear hierarchy – but is he? 
Does he think so?  I don’t
believe it.  I think there’s a part of
him that knows he’s more aware, has more knowledge than most people, but I
don’t think he believes he’s superior. 
There’s an egoism that must go with it, but that’s not a flaw, that’s
part of omnipotence.  If you’re going to
have separate consciousness on your own and then also have that much knowledge,
you have to be aware that you’re “greater” than most.  But I think you’d also realize what a burden
this is.

But to be the LAST of the Time Lords . . . . well.  And to be the one who killed your own people
off to stop a threat to the universe at large? 
And to not be entirely sure this was the best choice?  Then to find out that your solution didn’t
work?

So he’s traveling. 
He’s always traveling, always on his own, sometimes with companions but
with a sense of the greater unity of Time Lords, until now.  Now it’s just him, completely alone.  Utterly. 
And I bet he feels a sense of responsibility, like now he has to bear up
all the work the Time Lords would have done as a race.  He’s not just the last of the Time Lords,
he’s THE Time Lord, so he’s sort of God as man, only knowing his job is
impossible.  He’s got to patrol the
entire universe himself.  Maybe he
wishes he’d died, too, but he couldn’t and didn’t, and now here he is, left
bearing the guilt of surviving and the responsibility of those he had to kill.

Now, enter Rose. At first she’s just another human to save, though she seems
to intrigue him right off.  She’s
spunky.  She’s smart.  She’s assertive.  But still, human.  She
can’t possibly be that different from anybody else he’s traveled with.  She can’t be that significant.  Still, she doesn’t run from danger, though
she’s not stupid.  She asks good
questions.  She takes stuff in
quickly.  She adjusts well.  Also, she keeps showing up.

She reminds him about humanity – also, I think, beyond
humanity, which is just about her race, to simply about a love of life.  I think he may have lost some of that in the
Time War, but Rose helps him regain some of it.  She reminds him about life. 
And I think initially, maybe, attaching to her is his first step towards
being able to love his own life again.

The bit where he talks about the turn of the earth, them
clinging to the skin of the planet – I think that’s his entire mental
state.  He’s just running.  Going. 
He doesn’t have joy in it anymore, it’s a job.  And he meets Rose and she’s really interested and he’s polite and
appreciates her, but he’s got walls up. 
“I’m big.  I’ve got this
weight.  You won’t want to be with me,
nobody would – it’s too painful.  I
don’t like it.  Why would you?”

Except she’s always there, always competent, always
Rose.  She helps.  She grounds him.  She takes him to task. 
She’s a companion the minute she spots the London Eye as the
transmitter.  But before that, she
accepts him. 

She asks if he’s alien, and he says, “Yep.  Is that all right?”  Quick exchange.  And yet!  Here he is,
facing the first person to really measure up since the Time War, with someone
who intrigues him, and first he’s got to make sure his normal is okay.  And it is, which is great, but that
moment.  I love that moment.

But he really has forgotten how to live life.  He can’t care about Mickey’s possible death
because he’s got to think about the life of “every stupid ape on this
planet.”  But it’s only three eps
until he’s in the cabinet room at Downing Street afraid to save the world
because it risks Rose, so that’s why I think he attaches his love of life to
“love of Rose.”  He can’t love
himself, but he can love and protect her.

She spots that wheel in the first ep, and it clicks for
him.  A companion!  A helper! 
Not to be alone!  And then she
doubles her worth by not just being clever and interesting, but being
useful.  She saves his life, and not
just here.  Over and over again, she’s
going to save his life, but it starts here. 

The whole of series one is the Doctor learning how to live
again.  He comes to us having just
killed his race to save everyone else, and he has guilt and fear and worry over
that, but Rose saves him because she helps him see that all he has to do is
live, to love his life, that he can’t have the whole of time and space on his
head, because it hurts.  He has to let
it go. 

 
Everything he says to her at the end of “The Parting of
the Ways” is what he needs to hear himself.  When Goddess Rose is standing there in her glory, unable to let
go of the power but doomed to die because of it, she’s become a mirror of
him.  She/the TARDIS become what he has
become and shows him he’s going to destroy himself – not a physical death, but
an emotional death.  The power’s going
to kill him.  Rather – the GUILT is
going to kill him.  He’s got to let it
go.  And he does.  It’s actually so perfect and fitting that he has to change
here.  It’d be weird if he didn’t.  Because now that chapter of his life is
closed.  He’s a new man.  Everything is different.  Rose should mourn him, because he’ll never
be that dark and vulnerable and lonely again.

 

I think when anyone is lonely what they’re really pining for
is themselves.  We are never alone until
we’ve lost our sense of our own self.  
The minute he opens the doors to the TARDIS in “The Christmas
Invasion,” right from, “Did you miss me?”  he’s different.  He loves himself again. 
He doesn’t even know who he is, but he loves himself.  It’s palpable.  Some of it is Tennant’s portrayal, but a lot of it is that he’s a
different Doctor now – not because he changed, but because he found himself
again. And now series two is going to be a whole new story.

We’ve already got a taste of what’s to come, and I don’t
just mean the trailer at the end of TCI.  The legs of the
new journey are in place.  I love the
hand cutting off bit and the regeneration – it could symbolize so many
things.  It could mean his companion –
maybe Rose will be less essential to him now. 
He still loves her, but now she’s not vital to him.  If he had to lose Rose it wouldn’t be the
death of his race all over again.  It
could mean himself – go ahead, cut off my hand, cut off my people, cut off my
whole sense of self, but I’ll just grow a new one. 

It also makes me wonder about series two, about his new character.  Will he be more invincible?  Definitely he’s going to take more
risk.  He’s got a zest which is really
fun.  But more clues: he doesn’t give second
chances.  He’s ruthless in his
judgment.  He destroys Harriet Jones
with six words, and he doesn’t regret it. 
He’s strong again, whole.  This
makes me wonder what sort of enemies he’s going to conjure now.

Cool.

misty moment

Okay, when I was little, I had a stuffed Snoopy and a blue blanket. I had them when I was not so little as well — they even came along with me to college. But eventually they made their way into storage, and for about ten years they’ve just rattled around in bins as I’ve moved here and there, just one of those mementos you can’t throw away and yet have no immediate need for any longer.

Last night my daughter was scared of bad dreams, unwilling to go asleep, and hitting on some brainstorm out of my subconscious I went into her closet where I’d fortuitously put the bin of stuffed animals from my childhood, and I brought out Snoopy and the blanket. I told her how they’d been my special nighttime friends when I was little and that they chased away bad dreams.

Anna clung to them all night and declared they did keep the bad dreams away when she woke this morning. Now Snoopy and the blanket are downstairs, having an entirely new set of adventures, thirty years after they began.

I have to say, this is the part of parenting I really really enjoy.

All hail the Doctor

Right — so, my daughter has started going to preschool daily as of the
first of the year.  This translates to two full hours of writing
time every morning, and I was determined to be good.  I was,
mostly — Wednesday (first day back) I made notecards.  Yesterday
I brainstormed.  Today I watched the last fifteen minutes of The
Christmas Invasion repeatedly, freeze framing shamelessly.  (I
adore .avi files.)

You know, that latter still was work, and so is this journal
entry.  Seriously.  Because for part of it I listened to the
audio commentary from the web (again) by the writer and producers (the
brilliant Russell T was there), and doing that was writing work. 
I’m not sure why yet, but all I know is that I stared at that horrible
blank screen and blinking cursor, unable to start act two, so I watched
the end of TCI again and felt like if I wrote this journal entry, then
I’d be all set and able to write.

I think it’s because that story is such DAMN GOOD STORY.  My poor
friends — come February when there’s a US release, I’m going to be
terrible.  I think I’m going to buy it for my dad for his
birthday, which is in March.  But it is, it really really
is.  And I just wasn’t sure at all about Tennant — I was so in
love with Eccelston, but oh, Tennant defied logic and reason and was
instantly even better. 

What is it about the Doctor?  Is it because he’s so competent and
yet so childlike?  I’ve never seen anybody be 900 years old and
have that kind of energy and vitality and love of life.  I think
that’s why Tennant is so fabulous, because Eccleston was GREAT but so
sad and down because he had to be, given what he had to do to
Gallifrey, and he really loved life, but he seemed to love everybody’s
life but his own.  Until the end.  And now we have Tennant,
who looks ready to dance his way across the screen for the rest of time.

But I think the biggest reason I love Tennant is because of the “Attack
of the Graske.”  I know Eccelston was big into this show being for
the kids, and oh, he’s my first Doctor so he will always always always
be sacred, but after I watched the Graske ep which was so obviously
geared for kids — well, you could just tell Tennant would have been
one of the little boys gleefully pressing the remote, glad to be the
Doctor’s companion for ten minutes.  And he both takes such care
in the role and yet so clearly ADORES it, revels in it.  I hope he
never leaves.  I hope he’s on for twenty years.  I know he
won’t be, but oh, I adore him.  He’s so fabulous.

Also, cute as hell.  That doesn’t hurt at all.

Davies, though — he’s my main man.  He has officially gone on the
list of People I Need To Hug Before I Die.  We’re heading to
England in the spring, and I’m trying to find the right argument for a
day trip to Cardiff.  As I’m getting my husband hooked on Who as
well, it may not be as hard a sell as I think.  I know I won’t see
Davies, but I just want to go stand near his aura for awhile.  I’m
sure I’d embarass myself if I ran into him, because I’d probably just
start crying.  But my God, he takes such CARE.  I’ve never
seen anybody love story like him.  Yeah, I hear the critics who
say he makes logic leaps.  Oh, probably.  But this man put a
SWORD FIGHT in TCI.  Ohmygod I about died.  And he set the
whole episode up to help eight year old boys adjust to a new Doctor,
and made sure to put in references and little details.  And gets
excited because the wardrobe people made Jackie and Rose’s outfits
clash, because that suits their personalities and their dynamic. 
He loves the story, loves his characters, and loves his audience and
takes care of them all.  Plus he’s brilliantly intelligent and
knows it but doesn’t gloat.  God, I need to at least shake his
hand.  And sob on it.

And now to work with me.  But look!  Three blogs in one week.  Go, me.

Rule, Britannia

It’s been very British around our house lately.  Anna’s favorite shows are Thomas the Train
and Bob the Builder.  Dan’s ordering the
UK edition of Titanic on DVD and pining after Kylie Minogue.  In addition to writing about England in the
early 1800s, I’m researching the British Royal Navy like mad, watching my front
porch for the delivery of the Doctor Who tape from Canada of the Christmas
Invasion, and being rather depressed that there isn’t a third series of Spaced
out just yet.  Also, we’re planning a
trip to Europe in April, and a full week of the three will be spent in good old
Albion.

You know, I’ve always had a thing for Britain, and lately
I’ve been trying to decide why.  These
days it’s easy to pine for Anywhere But Here, but more of that is the fallacy
of Utopia than anything else. 

Though I think what gets me is that even the
“simple” in Britain don’t seem to fall into ideology and fanaticism
en masse, and that’s what we seem in for here. 
I’m so weary of the US being one big magnetic polarity field, zealots on
all sides, and nobody but nobody successfully holding up the middle.  I watch Spaced and think, I want a flat in
that building, too.

I keep thinking of the book I just finished: To Rule the
Waves
, which is a history of the British Royal Navy which really becomes
the history of Britain through its navy. 
It really sobered me, making me realize how it doesn’t seem to matter
how long a lens we have on history or how pervasively we study ourselves, each
civilization which rises to high power is doomed in the end by their own height
and what is apparently an irresistible urge to look up instead of out, to
protect the pinnacle rather than use the pinnacle to give back and realize that
being on the top isn’t being in charge but being the one who gives the most.

I don’t think there’s a civilization ideally suited to this
charge, but I have to say, if I got to vote I’d give it back to Britain.  Actually, I’d really like it if Everybody or
Nobody was “they key power,” but we really don’t appear to be
advanced enough as a species for that sort of open end.  Chaos would ensue.

So I guess in the end I’ll just be really glad for
amazon.com.uk, region free DVD players, and friends who know where the good
Brit TV is.  Also, for marrying a
husband whose income supports trips to Europe.

Resolved: Rejoin the Rest of the World

Huh.  Last entry
October?  Right, it’s time to get a new
blog strategy.

Though actually, I have to say I wasn’t present for much
from October until now, and it was kind of a nice vacation.  I can’t say exactly where I was or what I
was doing – obviously I can say that I was here in my house and that stuff did
happen, but the part of my brain that blogs was checked out.  However, it’s back now.  And as one of my goals for the year is
“get used to exposure,” blogging it will be, a lot more often, too.

And today I’m going to talk about my collages.  Since my brother helped me figure out
Coppermine, I won’t just tell you – I can show you.

These are my collages. 
Well, okay, there are two collages sort of buried in there, here
and here, and if I get my stuff together I’ve got another two to post in the gallery
eventually – but the other stuff is detail work on the Governess story because
the camera I used for that is only so-so, and I was dissatisfied with the
detail work.  But I may have gone
overboard on the detail photos.  A
Touch of Steel
is the finished story, and at the moment I have it out to
readers and out for the Golden Heart contest. 
The other one doesn’t really have a name beyond “The Governess
Story.”  I’ve toyed with The
Governess and the Sea
or The Governess of the Sea, but really the
only solid part right now is that it’s about a governess.  And a sea captain.

I really love my collages. 
I don’t much care if other people hate them (though I love to hear that
people love them) because they are so perfect for me.  And that’s the best part, that I make these just for me.  I save pictures, scour hobby shops, Google
image search until I can’t find any more photos, then spend an afternoon with
glue and tape and everything I’ve found. 
I tend to take over the dining room when I do this.  The making of the Governess collage found my
four year old was awake for a change (I tend to do these in the middle of the
night), and she insisted on making her own collage, which actually turned out
really well.  I should take a photo of
it and post that as well.

I love collaging because that’s where the magic happens.  Writing has its moments, but there’s so much
stress and angst there that I tend to be bonkers half the time while I do it,
and if there are miracles I’m either so behind I don’t have time to rejoice in
them, or I’m so frazzled I don’t even notice them happening.  Wait, there have been some miracles in the
Governess draft, but it’s hard to hold onto them because they’re all mental and
you can downplay them later.   But collaging?  That rocks, every time. 

I don’t structure my collages consciously, though they’re
always very structured.  They just
happen.  I start gluing and cutting and
moving stuff around, and it just happens and when I’m finished, they’re
gorgeous (I think so anyway) and they’re perfect and right.  Once I’ve made a collage I relax because I
know it’s a real book.

I have Jenny Cruise
to thank for the collage habit, and believe me, I thank her pretty much after
every one, because it’s sort of like birthing a child – every time it blows
your mind what you just did.  She has a
great article or two on it, but for some reason her page is refusing to load
properly for me just now, but really, you should poke around on her site
anyway, so go play for yourself.

I have four collages in my office.  I only have one finished (all the way to the
end, polished and in the most initial baby step stages of attempting to get it
published), but I know I have three more books in me in the near future because
there are three more collages.  I can
tell you in depth what each picture means and may do that someday – but the
part I love is that I don’t sit down and get stressed about how it’s going to
happen, I just let it happen.

I really can’t describe how it is that I do that, which is a
shame, because that’s the biggest miracle. 
I get myself so tied in knots over the words, and the arcs, and if it
starts going south I freak out and worry what it means.  I sweat over craft, worry about things I
can’t control, hyperventilate when I think about submitting to an agent – but
even though I know there are more artistic things out there, I’d show ANYBODY
my collage.  And when people don’t
understand them or know what to say, I tend to think, “Well, it’s not for
you anyway.”  

This should be happening with more in my life.  Just let stuff fall where it will, view it
all as the miracle it is, then show it proudly to everybody.  And if people don’t get it, shrug and think,
“It’s not for them.”

And the miracle at the moment is that I have the sort
of life that when my daughter woke and came into my office, I just unplugged my
headphones so she could listen as she plays with the Buffy and the Eowyn from
my writing altar while I work.  It’s
good work if you can get it.

Strange New World, or Something

So. I’ve finished writing a book.

I’ve written that statement several times in the past few days, I think in hopes that one of these times it will feel natural, not clangy and freaky and strange. I have said that sentence before, because I thought I’d finished books before, but this time I really did finish it, I think, because sometime on Saturday night I felt a door close and I have this urge to crawl into the back of my mind, pound on that door and scream, “WAIT A MINUTE!!!!!”

I have no idea why I’m doing this. It seems somewhat perverse, though I’m not surprised I found a way to turn a happy moment into a panicked one. When I thought I’d finished a book before I had this immediate urge to shove it on anyone who walked by and then hold them prisoner in a corner until they’d read the whole thing so I could see if I was right, if it was really done. I’m still making my husband read it, and after every session I grill him relentlessly on character, backstory, pacing, setting, his enjoyment. (He’s a saint.) But I’ve only sent it to one other person, and while I’m curious, I’m not exactly wishing her to flood back to me with comments, even good ones. And when I grill my husband, I keep waiting for him to tell me the flaws I know it’s got to have, because I can’t really be done.

It doesn’t feel euphoric – it does, but not the sort of rainbows and sunshine and children tossing rose petals euphoria I guess I was expecting. I thought I’d feel all satisfied and proud, that I would stand in some part of my brain and crow, “I have finished a book! I have arrived!”

Instead I keep whispering it, or slipping it in so nobody notices. “Oh, and I finished the book.” My father-in-law was proud, and wanted to know when I wanted to send it in. You know, I couldn’t even feel the panic, I went so numb. It feels good to be done, validating, yes – but somehow this took me somewhere new, and I’m sort of standing in this new place blinking stupidly, unsure of where I am or how I got here or what I am to do now. I didn’t bargain for that. I didn’t think feeling really finished would make everything change – I thought that would come if I ever got a publishing contract, or if the story voices changed their pitch and I couldn’t hear them anymore, or if . . . I dunno, I just never thought it would be that I finished yet another draft, looked back and saw that it was good, and suddenly there it was, done.

But I guess it’s true – I finished a book. I’ll just say it fifty more times this week and see if by Friday I don’t want to throw up immediately after I end the sentence.