In Which There Are More Sticks, and a Few Carrots

15 March 2003

My nose is stuffy in the mornings lately, and once again I feel like I was beaten with a stick. We shall see, when Mark is out of town, whether he has been the one administering the beatings, or whether he has been holding off the stick-wielders who break in our window and do it.

Bleeeeargh. I'm not sick. I'm just sleeping very badly. In the sense that I'm doing it, but poorly, not in the sense that I'm unable to sleep at all. That, at least, would make some sense. Why do you feel like crap on crackers? Because I got almost no sleep. Well, all right, then. But no. Deep, hard sleep with vivid dreams. Death on toast. Sent for and couldn't come.

Ah well. At least the stuffiness of nose goes away. And, hey, almost topically, linked from BoingBoing, there's an article about how women's moods improve when they're exposed to man-sweat. Well, heck, I could have told you that. Guy sweat is mostly only an odious smell when it's stale or when the guy in question is ill.

People need to pay more attention to their noses and less to their social preconceptions. Sheesh.

It finally rained last night and this morning. They had been promising us rain for Tuesday, and it finally came, albeit not in the daunting quantities they promised. I miss weather so much. Even a little rain is so welcome, because at least it's something, and I don't feel like we're living in a plastic bubble.

Not even a snow globe. Just a bubble.

I baked many happy things yesterday, although I still have to do the top layer to the mint brownies. And I still have to take out recycling and clean and so on, but some of that may still be tomorrow's work. I kept intending to read more of Sewer, Gas, and Electric, and I did read some of it, and it was fun. It was over the border into surreal where Fool on the Hill was merely whimsical, I think; I don't think I'll love it the way I loved Fool on the Hill (although I have a fair bit left, and I might). But it's a good read, it's not that. It's just that, well, my own book is more interesting to me right now.

I figured out yesterday while I was writing e-mail that this is one of the hardest times for someone to hold my attention with a book: when I'm smack in the middle of the first pass of edits through one of my own books. Because (I said this to Matt, I'm pretty sure -- sorry for the repeat, Matt) when I'm doing the first pass of edits, the other author has to compete not just with the book I wrote, but with the book I wish I'd written, the book I intended to write and am still trying to approximate. And not only will my own actual books never be quite that sparkly, neither will anyone else's.

In some ways, I can almost understand people who never seem to want to finish their books. (Almost. Give me a week, and then I won't understand any more.) Because the unfinished book has a lustre that no finished book ever has. Any flaw in it can be chalked up to its unfinished nature. It's a fresh mirage; it's the new significant other -- in the ketchup phase. (A guy I lost track of after my freshman year at Gustavus -- and hey, if you find this and it's you, write to me and say hi -- declared that every romantic relationship went through the ketchup phase, where everything was a bright and shiny indicator of destined love: "You like ketchup? I like ketchup, too! Ketchup is my favorite condiment! That must mean we were meant to be....") You know just enough to see all its virtues, and to be convinced that its flaws can be fixed with just a leeeettle help.

This is why, too, I've had a hard time starting up on a short story. I didn't yesterday. I just worked on Dwarf's Blood Mead. I know that it's good for me to work on new things while I'm editing things, so that I don't get bogged down in the edits as fast. But I did the Väinämöinen story, and now I'm having a hard time making myself do another when, after all, it's also good to work on the book, and here it is, and maybe just one more page.

The sequential edits are working pretty well, though. I started out doing a few scattershot edits, but I've settled down into reading the book sequentially and marking it up that way. I have a couple pages of notes that aren't at all sequential, which is why I started off that way, but if I come up with something I need to address later, I either add it to the list or preserve my place earlier in the book, make the quick later change, and go back to the earlier spot. This way I know what the reader knows by this point, and I have the introduced characters in mind, and should Hakon go to Ull's hall and then to the Allthing? Hmm. I don't know. I don't want that scene to be half-hanging off the edge of the book, but I also don't really want Soldrun to have to deal with him extensively.

Sorry. Right. Back to comprehensibility. But I've got a one-track mind lately, if you don't count all the worry tracks. David mentioned a Civil War general he was reading about, and I automatically determined which god he would follow. Despite the fact that he was a pious Christian and would have been offended at the very thought. It's just where my brain is lately.

But I can't mumble and edit all day, because we're heading up to Berkeley this afternoon to be social. We're going to Au Coquelet around 3:30ish, and thence to Long Life and Mondo Gelato, and if we made a quick stop at The Other Change on the way there, I wouldn't be surprised. So if you're going to be in Berkeley and would like to say hi or happy book, Au Coquelet in the late afternoon is the place. I'm looking forward to the chance to hang out with some people I haven't seen in awhile and some others I've seen fairly recently. It just feels like it's been a long time since we've had really social activity. One person at a time over here, maybe, or me going up to David's by myself, but while that's nice, it's not really the same thing. And then I'll get more sociability tomorrow. Happy thing.

Also, I will return books to people in significant numbers. I've had Evan's Sandmen (Sandmans?) for long enough that I should probably tape a note to the door tomorrow reading, "EVAN, WAIT! Do you have your comics?"

(Evan and I were coming up with anti-movementarian slogans yesterday -- signs to carry, for a movement of people opposed to simplistic movements that carry signs. He preferred, "Down With Soundbites" and "For A More Nuanced Politics"; my contribution was, "Keep It Complex, Stupid." Karina can carry them, when she wears her black beret and all. She can even borrow my black beret, if she wants to, since my head is never cold here. It was given to me by Evan. Hmm. This is getting a little odd.)

(How do I decide which entire paragraphs go in parentheses? It's a seeeeeecret.)

I think I'd better do some quietish things and attempt to gather myself together before I actually deal with people in person, so that I don't use words like "seeeeeecret" too much. Maybe I'll make frosting. Maybe I'll edit some more. You just never know.

Okay, not never. Sometimes, in fact, you have a pretty good guess.

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