In Which Enthusiastic Pessimism is Clarified

18 February 2003

There seems to be a bit of confusion about yesterday's journal entry. First of all, I did not mean that anybody should refrain from airing their political views. I just don't think that "X is a poopyhead" is a very good way of putting those views, whether X is George W. Bush or Al Sharpton or some unnamed political figure, and a lot of venting about current politics falls into that category. Which is fine as long as you're venting in private, where you can be sure that the people you're talking about either agree with you already or will wait to hear your more coherent position after your (justified or unjustified) fit-pitching is done. Just not in public, where you may be trying to convince people.

Someone else asked if I was trying to tell people not to Bush-bash. I think it's that I'm trying to note that Bush-bashing and Bush-criticizing may not be points on the same spectrum at all, but may have opposite effects. The sort of people I associate with are used to saying, "Well, fine, we'll go be freaks over here by ourselves, then!" This is a great strategy for much of social life -- if you don't want to have to talk football in the college cafeteria, for example, this is the way to go, or if you don't want to have to talk about "Survivor" or whatever the heck the hot new sex and money "reality" show is right now. But when you're trying to deal with something larger than your own social group, the rules are a little different. Going off to your own corner to play is not so effective when you're trying to stop a war. Or deal with taxation and budget issues. Or pretty much anything else that's a matter of practical politics.

On the up side, you already have something to talk about with the people you're trying to reach, and it's not football or "Survivor."

I finished another chapter of Dwarf's Blood Mead yesterday, and I'm hoping to finish at least one more today. Possibly two. I don't know; we'll see how much Timprov is awake and wanting to birthdayify. We had really awesome stuff at House of Nanking: shrimp cakes, calamari, boiled pork dumplings, pea sprouts and garlic, beef wraps, red pepper fish fillets, scallops over eggplant, sesame chicken. And of course rice. I had bits and bites of everything, and it was all good. Tonight is birthday dinner #2 for Timprov: Hungarian food in the City at Bistro E Europe. We've never been there. I've never had Hungarian. And while Timprov has spent time in Hungary twice now, he doesn't know the names of most of what he ate there. So this should be interesting indeed.

Anyway, the two chapters I'm looking at finishing (out of 18 total) are at least half-written now. They have big swaths of them taken care of. It should be fine. I'd still like to finish this draft this month, which means within ten days. I think I can do it, but I'm not going to freak out if I don't. If it's my folks' anniversary before I'm done, that'll be okay. (My folks' anniversary is March 3.)

I seem to want to use the phrase "Soldrun said grimly" an inordinate amount. I'm conscious of it now, so I don't actually do so. But my main character spends a good portion of this book feeling grim. I blame her brothers.

Also, some days I just don't like writing action scenes. They're never my favorites, but some days I have more incentive to do them. Like "this book will suck if I don't," for example. So then I sit myself down and do them, but with promises of nice talky scenes afterwards, probably with arguments and snarkiness, and then I'm happy or at least have some delayed gratification.

What I like and dislike about wearing my YA writer hat instead of my spec fic writer hat: YA writers don't seem to run in packs. It means less community, but it also means that nobody seems to be trying to group YA writers into movements. I hate the genuine movements, the ones that come up with manifestos and insist that people who use diagonal lines can't possibly be part of the movement, because only vertical and horizontal will do. And the kind of movement that's observed in retrospect requires at least half the group-that-looks-like-a-movement-now to be dead, I think, or it's too soon to notice it. Retrospect requires more than a few months. And then there's the other kind, where someone else calls you a movement, and you say, "Huh? Me?" And that doesn't seem to be helpful to anybody, either. So. Maybe there are YA writer movements, and I'm just blissfully unaware of them. So much the geek that I don't even know there is a Cool Crowd. It could be something like that. If it is, well, I don't care. I hope they're having fun, but I know I am, and that's what I intend to keep doing.

Even if I don't care for action scenes as much as I might.

I finished Summerland yesterday, and I enjoyed it, although not nearly as much as Kavalier and Clay or some YAs I've read recently. It was decently done, but it won't make my "favorite books" shelf, although I was very fond of the main character's first stint as a catcher. Timprov (one of the biggest baseball fans I know) was saying that he didn't really understand the point of a "baseball book," and I think it's just a form of characterization, really. If you know baseball, and you know what position someone plays and how, you know a lot about that person. But I agree that if the entire point is "look, there's a baseball game!", it's not going to be my kind of book.

Anyway, now I'm reading Candas Jane Dorsey's Black Wine. I figured out after a confused moment that it wasn't a short story collection (the chapter titles would make lousy short story titles -- there are all kinds of repeats), and so it's not what I was expecting at all, but what I can't make out is why I thought it would be a short story collection in the first place. I think I had it mixed with Karen Joy Fowler's Black Glass, which is a short story collection, and which I own and have read. I knew that they were different, but I think I had classified them too much together. Anyway, I'm trying not to hold that against the book, because it's not its fault I'm confused. I really did want some short stories, though, and if it wasn't a short novel, I'd take a break from it right now.

And look, it says right on the cover: "Winner of the IAFA/Crawford Award for Best First Fantasy Novel." There. Short story collections don't get that much. Silly me.

I was amused at the Tomato Nation lady's musings on rock concerts and the idiots who do their best to spoil them for said Tomato Nation lady. There's this one image -- but I won't spoil it if you want to go read it. Go.

I also had to smile at Karina's comments about winter, because even as she was saying, "I think people tend to idealize winter when they are not actually experiencing it," I was reading her descriptions of salt-colored-everything and sighing, ah, those are the days. I miss the mornings when everything is still snow-colored and not salt-colored (and gravel-colored, too) -- but I also miss the way the entry rug gets filthy no matter how many times you vacuum it because of all the salt. I miss the cold that never leaves your feet the whole time you're outside the house, and the way you should just attach lotion bottles like IV drips to your elbows, because the dry cold is going to make them suck it right up. I miss the way you can't breathe without coughing if you forget your scarf at home, the way your waterproof boots keep the snow that's fallen in the tops from drying once it's melted on your feet, the way you always run out of tea on the day that you absolutely need a cup of hot tea or you will keel over dead on the spot. I miss the look of reproach the dog gives you because you are the one who is in charge, and the state of affairs has devolved to the point where she is having to pee in a snowbank, and the second look of reproach the dog gives you when clumps of snow get into her pads, and also the third look of reproach the dog gives you when you attempt to use a towel to get the snow out of her pads again. I miss the way the salt-grey snow melds with the salt-grey sky and also possibly some salt-grey concrete buildings with ice streaks down their sides and inspires a fantasy-novel hell worth four books at least and makes you attempt to do bodily harm to some close friends, just because it's that time of year and they're bigger than you are and can take it. I miss the way the snow melts and forms puddles on the sidewalks, which have been pushed up uneven, and then refreezes again, because it isn't really spring, and then you come down off the peak of a sidewalk that's supposed to be flat and into a perfectly smooth block of glare ice. I miss the ever-dignified shuffle of the walker on ice. I miss flailing my arms and bumping my butt on ice moguls because there was an ice storm over the clumps of snow that people had walked into little hillocks. I miss having to wait for the car to warm up before getting into it, and keeping blankets in the car so that you don't freeze to death on the way to the grocery store, never mind if you get into an accident. I miss knowing that no matter how you dress, it will not be warm enough for when you have to go outside, not even if you wear a ski sweater that feels like armor, and it will also not be cool enough for the home of the person you're visiting for coffee, because that person takes the notion of a sauna and incorporates it into the rest of her house. I miss being forced by loving relatives to drink plain hot water. I miss owning stuffed snake-like objects to shove into the cracks under the doors.

I don't know if that counts as idealizing winter or not. Sometimes I think I'm not an optimist but rather an enthusiastic pessimist: "[list of bad things] -- wooooo!" This is different from being a masochist, too, because I don't expect that I will enjoy having frozen toes. I would just like the opportunity to have them. Then I will avoid them whenever possible. You see how this works? Yes? With the "woooo!"? I do this with the prospect of getting a puppy, too -- "And then we'll have to housebreak her and brush her while she complains and get her shots and teach her not to chew on things and -- wooooo!" And also with the prospect of having a baby. And with the actual process of moving. And so on.

All right. Time for more of Dwarf's Blood Mead, happy chatty scenes, rah. Politics and prophecy. Whee. I love this book.

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