In Which Our heroine Gets Her Head Together

28 May 2003

It's Mark's mom's birthday today, so happy birthday to Linda. I'm sure we'll try calling her tonight. We were gone late enough that I'm surprised Mark got to talk to anyone on his actual birthday, with the time zone thing, but his brother was up late, so they had a nice talk. Timprov and I got Mark from work and went to Gordon Biersch, where the garlic fries were good. I had been figuring I could get a crab BLT if nothing else jumped out at me, because that's what I got in San Jose. Well, the menus were different enough that there was no crab BLT, so I got pasta instead...meh. Anyway, Mark's last present from me shipped yesterday, and I can go to the post office to pick up his presents from my parents, and several people are still sending him cards, so he's still got birthday going.

I awakened to the sound of sirens this morning. Ahh, the joys of open windows. Well, at least it's feigning summer for awhile.

Crud. My page is down this morning. Well, it's up by the time you're reading this, right?...sigh.

Yesterday, after David teased me about it, I started the moving to-do list. The idea is that it will let me get this stuff down so that I don't have to fuss about whether I'm thinking of it or not, because it'll just be there, all neat and tidy. Less fuss is always good.

I find that they don't tend to have the things I wonder about in the housing classifieds. There are no indicators for ltw, lightswitches that work; no markings of dss, double-sided sinks, or BS, big shower. I'm not even sure what the abbreviation would be for "plenty of pacing routes," but I know RFB pretty well: room for books. Why don't they put that in there? And qt nbrs, how about that?

There is a pigeon cooing nonstop outside my window somewhere. It's a little disturbing. Not as bad as the bird that attacks cars, but still odd to have it going "coooooooooooooooo, ooooooooooooooo, ooooooooo."

The bad fortune cookie gave me the fortune, "You foolishly believe in the goodness of mankind." Stupid accurate cookie.

I really need some middle-length projects. Right now, I feel like I'm either on the level of "go to the post office; take out the trash" or on the level of "finish long novel; determine next 4.5 months' moving-tasks schedule." I think of short stories as instant gratification, but I think they could maybe be longer-term gratification than having the recycling out in the proper bins. Maybe. But right now, that would mean making room for more stuff on the schedule, and that seems like a bad thing, too.

I can't decide. Sometimes I think I'm sorely in need of some perspective. Other times, I think perspective doesn't help a bit. If I ask, "Does it really matter if I keep working hard on this book?", I think the answer is yes. It does matter. "Does it matter if I keep the household running smoothly?" Yes. "Does it matter if I try to do things to give Mark a happy birthday?" Yes. "Does it matter if I keep in touch with my friends and let them know they're loved even when I'm not around?" Yes. "Does it matter if I return my library books on time?" Yes.

It does matter if I do things well. I think that's not the kind of perspective I should be looking for.

Hmmm. You know how they sometimes go on about how you should just make yourself happy and work up to your own standards and all that? (You know who goes on. They do.) I think this is a terribly stupid idea for me. I think it's become clear that I have wholly unreasonable standards for myself, especially in terms of work, and that I need to accept that and use somebody else's standards for awhile. The problem with this plan is that I suspect my loved ones of going easy on me, so it's hard to accept their ideas of reasonable work goals.

I went and thought about this in the shower for awhile, and I came up with the obvious solution: a book contract. There. I knew there was something that could fix this easily. With a book contract, they say, "Here's the date we want your book written! Here's when we need the final edits made! Here's when you have to be done reading through the copyeditor's changes!" It's someone else's schedule who has no interest in going easy on me.

Well, all right then. We'll just do that.

The other problem I'm seeing right now is that I haven't been using the paper journal in the right way. (Where by "right way," I mean "way that works best for me," not "moral standard for use of private journal.") While I've been making sure I write in it daily or very nearly so, a lot of it has either been the type of frantic notes I make to ensure I don't lose a story while I'm working heavily on something else, or else quick reminders of what the day was like or what I was thinking of particularly then. Which is valuable, too, but it doesn't give me the kind of ramble room I find useful for working on a book. I need to let myself ramble more. Which means that writing in my paper journal after 9:00 p.m., as I've been doing, is not the best way to go for my mental clock. After 9:00, I'm winding down -- not getting ready for bed yet, but definitely past my peak. Which is why, in M'ris-logic, it has been journal-writing time lately: because I'm not going to get any "real work" done unless I'm on an incredible roll, so I might as well use the time for paper journaling.

That defines paper journaling out of the arena of "real work." Not a good idea. I have an aversion to treating writing as if it wasn't real work, but I can't let that leave out the intuitive mumbles. I tend to be quite adamant that working artistically/intuitively does not in any way rule out having a strong work ethic and organization. I just need to remember that myself, in both directions, and things will be fine. Or at least better than they've been in the near past.

The funny thing is, when I'm writing a YA, I always have a period of it when I tell myself how much better it is to write for adults, and when I'm writing for adults, I always have a period when I tell myself how much better it is to write YAs. But if I look at what I've actually said to myself during them, how I've actually felt, it's not that way. (I also have a period -- or several of them -- when I tell myself how far superior the genre or category I'm writing in is to anything else and how lucky I am to be writing a book in that genre-category combo, rather than some other book. I talk to myself a lot, evidently. I guess that's what the subconscious is for, though.)

Okay, so: external standards if possible, more quality paper journaling with room to natter on. That seems like a good solution to try. And if not, there will be others.

And now, there will be pesto calzone and some fresh strawberries. Hurrah.

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