In Which Our Heroine Agrees With Pamela

3 April 2004

I don't think it's coincidence that my fits of introversion are coming along just before MiniCon. My brain is saying to me, "People! People! You're going to have a surfeit of people in just one week! Enough with the people! No more people!" And after MiniCon, Ed and Jen and Ellie will be staying with us. It's only one night, and they'd be coming here for dinner anyway, along with the rest of the Minnesota branch of the Crowd, so my sociability isn't particularly increased. Or to put it another way, glad to have 'em. But still. That's people, people, people, one day of breath-catching, and then people again.

Sometimes I think that in order to be my friend, people should have to sign a statement reading, "I understand that 'you're hardly like having people around at all!' is a compliment, and one for which I may not always be eligible." I'm perfectly willing to sign a similar statement in return, acknowledging some fundamental liking of people if my friends have such a liking.

We had already arranged for Stella and Mike and Roo to come over tonight, and I'm not feeling so anti-social that I'd like to call and cancel; I'm looking forward to the concerto for bum and meeano. (But part of the thing that makes it cool is, I feel that I could call and cancel, and it would be disappointing but not a crushing blow to the friendship.) I had to decline two other invitations last night, within two minutes of each other. I hate turning down invitations, because I'm glad my friends think of me, and I think of them, too. But in one case, we already had plans for this afternoon (flower date!), and in the other, I had half a hundred things to do and the energy for about two of them. And I refuse to go out with my friends and then sigh deeply and act like every moment I spend with them is a chore, and a low-priority chore at that. Better to say no and try to figure out something for another time than to say yes and make them feel like duties.

I've had to negotiate the "to do" list carefully because of this, because some people do not immediately think of "fun tasks" as possibilities; they just don't want to be "a chore." I'm positively thrilled when writing to me or calling me or hanging out with me is on someone's "to do" list, because it means that it was important enough to them that they wanted to make sure they made the time for it. But I know not everyone else feels that being put on the list is a mark of distinction, so I try to tread carefully that way.

Pamela said that she always thinks, just before MiniCon, "Oh, I could just stay home. I could just -- not go. I could stay home." I begin to understand this mindset: home is nice. I'm pretty sure I'll have a good time when I get there, but...I already know everybody at home, and they like me and will not decide I have cooties if I have one run stocking or can't phrase a question intelligibly on the first go or rattle on about reindeer herding. (Predictably enough, the reindeer are the least of my concerns. I know, the reindeer are probably the least of your concerns in most social gatherings. But for different reasons, I assume.)

I finished reading From the Teeth of Angels, which was not James Morrow's take on dentistry but rather a Jonathan Carroll novel, one among many. Whenever people criticize high fantasy for doing the same thing over and over again, I wonder if they've read any authors like Carroll at all. Not high fantasy. Same thing over and over. I enjoyed it, but more as one enjoys a reread than as one enjoys a new book. Then I started Firebirds, and I've liked some of the stories in it and others not so much. I haven't really hated any of the stories so far, but a few have not really made me sit up and take notice. Which is fine; anthologies are like that. I did particularly like Delia Sherman's "Cotillion," and not just because a purple and green short paisley dress with bell sleeves sounds like just the thing after all the damn pastels I've been looking at in the stores these days. (It would be a bit much, but come on, with the hair. Sometimes a bit much is just enough. And we all know of my weakness for bell sleeves, which I believe is partly brought on by the traipsing and partly because I always think of Michelle when I think of them. Although that doesn't always signify: I still can't stand Thomas Hardy. Which associates with Michelle, not traipsing.)

I have almost finished "The Beast's Apprentice," and it is -- sigh -- a novelette. Unless I can get the hero his birdcloth cloak in 367 words or less, which I doubt, which I sincerely doubt. I hate novelettes and novellas. (That is, I hate marketing them. Reading them can be just fine.) Except for that one anthology ages ago, I don't know of any market that accepts them and doesn't accept short stories. Limited markets. Bah and humbug.

This particular story makes it clear to me that my brain is working about a hundred times better than it did in October. In October, I had written notes between the scenes I'd already written -- something I often do so that I don't fool my eye into thinking that the story is done and crow over it only to find in the revision that it is not. So I write things like "astronomical orientation here," and they're left justified and offset by line spacing. When I jotted them down in October, they were impossible. I spent hours staring at them. Yesterday I was just whipping through them -- oh, here's where they discuss his oldest sister? All right. Here's where his feelings become clear? Fine; next? The hell of it is, it's impossible for me to see what this means. Were the hours spent staring at the screen wasted, and I should have been sprawling on the grass talking or reading or daydreaming? Or were those hours totally necessary to the way the scenes are flying off my fingers now? The answer may be to spend more time sprawling on the grass talking or reading or daydreaming when scenes aren't coming, and see how that works. I don't know. The other part of the answer may also be not waiting until the scenes aren't coming to sprawl.

...And that may be one of the more sensible things I've come up with in awhile. I feel like I should sit very, very still lest it go away.

Well, I've hulled the strawberries, and I've made the secret Sunday breakfast treats for us and for Stella, Mike, and Roo. As I stood hulling the strawberries, I thought, I'll probably be doing this at least once a fortnight for the next three months. Which is fine, it's just that I don't usually think of it as a regular or standard seasonal task. Anyway, the list won't get any shorter with me sitting here babbling about strawberries, so I'm going to apply myself to useful things for a time.

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