13 June 2001
I am still drained from yesterday. I thought I was going to get good sleep and be fine. I got good sleep. I'm still tired. But the good news is that this weekend's cuts amounted to 25 pages, with the new material Diana requested figuring into the total length there. In 10-point font. I'm now trying to remember whether I originally sent it in in 10-point or 12-point. In 12-point, it's more than 25 pages, so all is well, but. Hmm. This seems like a really petty problem to have to consider, and it makes me a little frustrated with the "30 pages" figure (rather than a word count, I mean), but I think we can all deal. I still think 25 pages is a respectable amount to have cut without changing the plot of the novel or even really the subplots. I cut some sections and two entire scenes, and I think this is good. I still like the result, and I still think it's recognizable as the book I intended to write.
And I still like it, which is always a plus.
So I'm going to leave it sit awhile longer, maybe until tonight, maybe a little more time, and see if I want to change anything else before I send it back out again. It seems like that's the least I can do for patience. But I've done what I wanted to do with this book so far, and it seems to work. So I don't really see the point in sitting around stewing about it.
I still wish I knew whether it was originally in 10- or 12-point.
After I'd finished with the weekend's cuts, I sat down to work on my book review for Speculon (double M'ris issue coming up!) That was the goal. Didn't happen, though, and I blame Adam Duritz. See, I turned on some Counting Crows songs. I like Counting Crows a lot. They have several talents that combined in an unfortunate way for me last night, though, and resulted in a short story idea I didn't mean to sit and write (although I did manage to get away from the computer before it was finished -- small victories).
If I got to pick out a soundtrack to my life, I'm not sure what would be on it, but if one was selected for me, it looks like it'd be by Counting Crows. They have a gift for songs that stick to the moments of my life. I would still love "Mr. Jones and Me," I think, if it didn't come with a vision of Jen dancing her broken heart out with the grace of the carefully drunk. I would still love "Anna Begins" if I couldn't hear Scott blowing his nose on the other end of the telephone, muffling it imperfectly with his hand. I think I would. There are more of them. But these things help, they get deep into me and stick. I love Blues Traveler, I love Barenaked Ladies, I love Tull, there are all kinds of bands I really like -- those are just the ones I want to hear this morning. But Counting Crows is the one that finds its way into the cracks and crevices of my life.
And then there's the One Perfect Line-Image thing. There are other people than Counting Crows that do this. The bit we quote is when Arlo was singing Tom Paxton's "I Am Changing My Name to Chrysler," and he gets to "Since the first amphibians crawled out of the slime, of the slime" and he just stops cold and says, "I love that. Even if Tom didn't write the rest of the song, it'd be worth it for that one line." Then he makes everybody redo the line with him, just so that he can hear it again. There are lots of songs that'd be worth it for just one line, just one image. Sarah McLachlan's "Angel": "pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie" is one of my favorite image-lines ever. Fantastic stuff. Well, Counting Crows has those in almost every song. (Reason number 412 why "Hanginaround" is their worst song ever and should never have been released to radio.)
Evidently it's contagious, because I got some really clear images that resolved themselves into a short story. And it resonated clean through with a lot of stuff I've been considering lately, with a lot of people I've been glad to have around and a lot of people I've been missing. It deals with compromise, and homesickness, and a Lost Boy, and the smell of rain off the prairie in the summer. Oh. It smelled like summer rain in Milwaukee, Saturday night, and I almost cried. I've never smelled that out here. It's a different rain. It doesn't rain in summer much, I think is why, and it almost never rains hard. There's nowhere for the clouds to really get rolling -- there are all these hills in the way, changing the air currents, so you don't get sheets of rain, one after another. You can't go walking in the Arb and come back drenched. Damp would be the word.
One of the days I was in Toledo, it rained really hard, and a bunch of us went outside to play in it. We played Planets in the wet grass and stood in the empty fountains, and got soaked clear through. Literally every part of me was wet. That doesn't happen here, especially not in the summer when you can enjoy the warmth of the rain.
Who moves to San Francisco and misses dampness? This is crazy. But I do. What I really miss is the rain, and the way the heat rolls up off the prairie. Some people in Minnesota have this crazy belief system -- I don't know if it's spread out here, too. They say, "If it's windy, it won't feel so hot." Nebraskans laugh at them, once we have the dust cleared from under our contacts. Out here I could wear a broad-brimmed straw hat if I wanted to. But what would be the point? There'd be no challenge in keeping it.
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