Dog-Faced Goat-Girl Fights the Frost Giants

11 January 2003

In not too long, I'll be taking Mark to the airport to go to Institution1 for his interview. His bags are all packed and ready to go, ties and socks and all of those things carefully chosen. Which means I've done nearly everything I can do, and the rest is a kiss, some reassurance, and driving the car back.

Sometimes this supportive spouse thing involves lots of waiting. And maybe baking eplepai from the Scandinavian baking book Aunt Ellen and Uncle Phil gave me. (Despite the name, it isn't pie but cake. I don't really do pies.) Putting nice fresh sheets on the bed. Silly little things that make his life a little easier. Oh, and not-so-little things: cleaning the house, for example, and paying the bills. Things that make the household run smoothly while Mark's working like a mad thing to try to get to interviews, get work done, get all of his thesis stuff done, and by the way maybe finish off another paper for submission to a conference this month.

And I'll be arranging for the final car payment! We will own our car next week. This is good. Of course, we'll probably need to buy another one before the year is out, and the payments will begin all over again. But that's all right. Zeph is a good little car, and he will be all ours. Yay!

So. It will be a good week. I can just tell.

Typing the work from when I was gone is taking a very long time, but all sorts of things are percolating in it. It's good. I can see ways to do later scenes, and ways to do current scenes better. I can see my way through this, and it's good, and fun, and it makes me happy.

One of the problems with DBM is that I keep wanting to do everything in this one book. That's not necessary. It's not even an advantage. But there are so many cool things in this world. My Spear-Mire, for example, is so much niftier than the real one. And trolls: I'm not sure a troll attack fits, but gosh, I want to put one in there, and one of the reasons is, I want Soldrun and Lisved to kill a troll all by their teenage-girl selves. I'm not sure that that doesn't happen some other time, though, and it's not like Soldrun gets to ride in with axe raised whenever they do ride against the trolls. The axe would be pretty useless against a troll, unless it was magic, which it is not.

Frost giants, on the other hand. You can really swing an axe against some frost giants. This is why, I figured out, there were so many bearded axes in the Viking era: to use the bottom bearding bit to chip into the ice, like. When you're fighting frost giants. You know a bearded axe, right? Instead of the axe-head being symmetric, you've got a longer low bit that tapers to a narrower point than the high bit.

It was strange to be going through the Viking exhibit, because at the same time as I had a very thorough grasp on what elements were not really showing up then, my brain was processing it on both levels. My brain was processing the artifacts as genuine Viking artifacts and as artifacts of a slightly different, magic-using, troll-smiting, giant-smashing culture. It was neat, just a little surreal, and my notes swing back and forth between the wildly speculative and the wholly mundane.

But I really think I can leave the Spear-Mire out of things, and possibly the troll attack, too, because my girls will be kicking enough butt with two different bands of outlaw who actually have something to do with (gasp!) the plot.

And who make me want to read Ronia the Robber's Daughter again, quite a bit, and then possibly The Brothers Lionheart as well, just by association. But we don't have those here. What we do have is...well, lots of stuff. But after I finished The Master and Margarita, what I started was The Spellcoats, by Diana Wynne Jones, and that's been good so far, too, and I'm glad the library finally got it back, especially because they've had The Crown of the Dalemark for ages, but that's book four in this series, and thus of no use to me until I found The Spellcoats (book three). I almost bought it with my B&N gift card, and then I didn't, and my restraint was repaid ten minutes later at the library, where they did not have Fire and Hemlock, which is what I bought instead.

I believe that part of my brain has been sucked into L-space, is what it may be. And the advantage is that I only bought books that the library didn't have, when I used my gift card, and the disadvantage is that I once again have the urge to read every book in the world, right now, and write the ones that aren't written yet, right now.

Do you know how many novels are on my "to write" list now? Thirty-three. And most of those are adult novels, and do you know why? Because I have been writing enough YAs that keep coming to me so smoothly that I'm deliberately not thinking of what I want to do with YAs until I'm done with DBM. And then I can stop and think, and talk it over and all that, and it'll be good, but...oy. There are lots of things I want to do with...see, now, dammit, I have to stop this nonsense, because just saying "I haven't thought of what I want to do with YAs" makes me think, "Ooh, but if there was this girl, see, and a lab" and then that's thirty-four. Well, there's a bit more development to it than that, of course, but you get the point. And it's hard to stick my fingers in my ears and sing "la la la" when I'm the one I'm trying to drown out.

It's cool, though, this girl and her lab. Even though the chairs are still not comfortable. Why is it 30 years in the future and they still can't make comfortable lab stools? Why? Because I know for a fact that the chairs are intensely uncomfortable, and I just got this idea maybe five minutes ago. Did any of you have comfortable lab chairs? Wendy? Anybody? Why not?

Ahem. Yarg. Thirty-four.

One of the things that looks like it might be hard this year is rolling with the pats on the back. We're pretty prepared to roll with the punches, I think. If we have to live in Freezebutt, Wisconsin, I think we can do that with happy hearts. And rejections? I start to get antsy when rejections don't come in. (As they have not been. The time I was gone was pitiful, and the last few days have not added substantially to those numbers.) But good things are a little weirder, a little harder to go with. People say things to me like "it seems like you've been selling more stories lately," or "sounds like you're getting more successful these days," and I immediately understand the people who named their kids things like Dog-Faced Goat-Girl to try to distract the evil spirits from them. I want to start picking at things, I want to make loud lists of things that have not yet gone well, I want to get out a saucepan and a spoon and bang them together and sing tuneless songs, because those are all really blatant ways of avoiding taking a compliment. But I can't do that. That's ungracious, and I really hate it when people are truly ungracious. Sometimes getting patted on the back is scary. I do need to learn to deal with it, though: it's much better than the alternative with the saucepan.

And sometimes the people doing the patting make it easy. Mechaieh, for example, quoted a line from "Glass Wind" in her journal in such a way that I said, "Oh, hey, yeah, I did that! [pause] That was pretty cool of me!" Which doesn't happen that often, so it was neat. (Also, the way she phrased it was that this was "one of [her] favorite lines" from this story, which makes the internal author, who is approximately 12, say, "Hee hee. She liked other lines, too. Hee hee. In my story." So that was such a happy thing. Thanks, Peg.)

Well, what I would like from today is a quick enchilada from Julio's for lunch, then good work on a couple of different books, some erudite and witty mail, and a small, intimate dinner party with good wine and an assortment of friends and Timprov's experimental cooking. I will settle for a safe trip for Mark and some good work, though, and if Timprov feels like making dinner, so much the better.

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