This, That, Also The Other Thing

14 January 2003

Where Mark is now, at Institution1, it snowed yesterday. I'm madly jealous. I'm also hoping it eases off today so that he can get home safely tonight.

Can somebody tell me what the term is for a dog's kind of back elbow thingy? In bigger, long-coated dogs, you've got longer hairs coming from this bit, kind of plumes. But I'm not sure it's the elbow or knee -- given the weird way dogs walk, it might be more of a wrist-analog. I don't know. Help me with the term if you've got an idea. Google taught me what the five gaits are in a five-gaited horse and what kind of trees grow in Southern Iceland, but I couldn't make it yield a dog anatomy diagram that was useful for this.

I miss Thomas. His website has been broken forever.

I probably shouldn't tell you this, but Zak has stumbled upon our secret. Whose secret? Well, what he says is: "I did have an interesting realization while driving around and listening to Värtinä. Without using any specific details, all of Finnish folklore can be summed up with the phrase, 'I showed him my tits, but he was already promised to a magic elk.'"

Perhaps not all of Finnish folklore. Not even all of the Not The Moose. But I would be lying if I told you it had nothing to do with any subplots.

And Jenn (whose entries are permalinkable on the day they're posted, unlike Zak's) is struggling with giving her mom her first novel to read. And I can look at it and say, yep. Just yep. It's always hard the first time you give your mom one of your books, I think. At least it was for me. Because, you know, she's your mom, and you're really not sure what she'll think. And the first time you give your mom an R-rated book to read, also difficult. It's just something to get through, as a writer, just like you have to get through writing the stuff in the first place.

It sounds like Jenn's mom might be a little more difficult in that regard than my own. My difficulty with sex and violence is still Mark's grandpa. He's such a sweet guy I'd take him for another grandpa even without Mark, and he loves science fiction. And I know he's a grown-up and he's dealt with sex and violence before, but...not from me! It's just weird.

I've started thinking about yearly awards, because whether or not we can afford TorCon, we went to ConJosé, so we can nominate for Hugos and all. (And, you know, Campbells.) I started keeping recommendations for stuff I liked last year, and frankly, it's depressing. I'd probably add the Doctorow/Stross collab from Scifiction to the December list, and also Doctorow's Salon story, but...really, I just didn't find that many of the stories I read last year to be all that outstanding. Sad but true. I don't read Asimov's or Realms regularly, so that might give me a wider pool, but when I was reading them, I didn't like that many of the stories there, either. Maybe I should rephrase that: I didn't love that many of the stories there, either. That's the problem in a nutshell: I feel like I should love more of the stories I read. I'm unsatisfied with the quality of short fiction I've been reading. I've picked up a few copies of things like Black Gate and The Third Alternative, and I include several webzines in the stuff I read...and frankly, the pro webzines often do a better job than the print mags at picking stuff I'd want to read on the average. But I still don't have a lot of experiences where I think, "Yes! This is the story!"

For books, it's kind of like that: I like a lot more of the books I read, but I'm more likely to read books from other years, too. We have a fair number of books from 2002 in our collection, but most of them came from Christmas presents or from free books at World Fantasy, so far. We can't afford to buy all of the prospectively good stuff in hardbound each year, and the library isn't very good at picking it out. So we have books like Bujold's Diplomatic Immunity and Haldeman's Guardian, by authors we know we like, and they were good reads, and I'm glad to have them. But was Guardian on a par with The Forever War or the short stories of None So Blind? Not really, no, and I don't want to nominate it just because I like Joe Haldeman. And Diplomatic Immunity wasn't up to Cetaganda, either. I absolutely hate it when the wrong books get the awards because people got around to reading the right books too late. I think Bujold has had that happen -- I think her Hugos and Nebs have been for the Vorkosigan series more than for the specific books that got them. I don't want to nominate on that basis.

But we can only afford so many hardbounds in a year, and I don't think there's anything wrong with buying paperbacks. So for any given year, I think it would be much more accurate if you asked me what the best books and stories had been two or three years later. Not only would it give me a chance to acquire a few more hardbounds and a lot more paperbacks, but it would also give me a chance to chew on things and see what stuck with me and what didn't.

Since the flush of new enthusiasm would be off these stories and books, though, I don't think I'd be able to convince anyone else to do it that way. Ah well. I'll do the best I can.

So I finally finished typing what I've got on Dwarf's Blood Mead yesterday, and it's time to put the extensive editing notes into practice. Oh yes, and write most of the second half of the book. Always with the tiny details. It's going well, though; I like it upon second examination, although there are dozens of things I want to do with it. Notes and notes and notes. That's all right. I kind of like taking care of obsessive little notes.

So today's agenda: new stuff on Dwarf's Blood Mead more editing, maybe a little new stuff on the Not The Moose, cleaning the rest of the house, baking the eplepai and the Icelandic brown bread. And fetching Mark back from the airport! Oh, and reading Steven Brust's The Paths of the Dead. I'll be the last person in the house to read it. This is just a sign of my vast generosity, I will have you know, because it was a Christmas present to me.

Anyway. That's my plan, and I think it's a good one, but I guess the thing to do is find out.

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