In Which Our Heroine Presents Lists and Bans

30 June 2004

I was in a wretched mood yesterday. Cranky and grumpy and grouchy and owly and whatever other synonyms you like. (Why is it different to be owly than to be owlish? Is this in the childish/childlike category?) Today is much better. I don't know how much this has to do with the work I got done on Sampo last night, but it certainly couldn't hurt. I needed to have a decent writing day like that. Today I need another, and my brain seems to have awakened in that gear, more or less.

I can't tell you what a relief it is to have my book to work on and the time/inclination to work on it. It is a very good thing.

At the top of my weekly priority list, I have the general writing priority list. Where the Sampo draft is listed before the edits to Thermionic Night, for example. I am not sure about this writing priority list right now. It features a line, a little farther down the road, reading "Mark of the Sea Serpent or Zodiac House or The True Tale of Carter Hall." And maybe I'm being needlessly rigid with myself, but that seems like a lot of "or." Doesn't it? I mean, those are some pretty different books. Those are three different books. And they're essentially next. Ack! Oh, here, here's the parts of the list that are under my control, and they're in writing, not marketing:
0) take care of self and family;
1) Sampo draft;
2) "Make Me a Match" (SF mystery story in time for Oceans Of the Mind mystery issue deadline?);
3) Thermionic Night first-pass edits and send out to first-readers;
4) "Docile Bodies" (hard SF short story);
5) The Mark of the Sea Serpent or Zodiac House or The True Tale of Carter Hall draft;
6) Sampo first-pass edits and send out to first-readers;
7) epistolary novel including "MacArthur Station," "Glass Wind," "Rest Stop," and others, or at least component stories therein;
8) Midnight Sun Rising draft;
9) other short stories

There are lines in my list that prioritize "stories that make me laugh or eat my brain," but mostly a list like this is a combination of what I think I ought to do (not let novels languish endlessly unedited, for example, and submit to editors who have expressed an interest in my work before) and what I predict will be eating my brain in the first place. Which is why The Mark of the Sea Serpent is on the list in the first place.

I didn't plan to write most of the books I've written. I planned…er…well, there was a time between The Grey Road and Reprogramming when I was casting about for a novel project. So in that sense you might say that I planned to write Reprogramming. Mostly, though, they sneak up on my brain and start gnawing. And then I look around and there's a novel. "Hi!" it says cheerfully around a mouthful of my brain. "Don't mind me, I'll be here awhile."

So I make lists because they comfort me, because then I have something to point at. What am I doing here? Oh…that. Yep. See, it says so on the list. Of course, before I get to #8, the whole shebang will have gotten tweaked around until it's barely recognizable. The point of a list is not following the list. The point of an outline is not following the outline. They're like, like…like advice from experts. Sometimes you follow it and sometimes you don't, but it's comforting to know what you're scoffing at if you scoff.

Some people object to making plans with their lives in the small or large scale because "you never know what's going to change." This baffles me: of course you don't! What has that got to do with anything? Something changes in your plan, you make a new plan. You don't give up the notion of planning.

Well, I don't.

I don't go past this point with the list, though, because the number of things under my control is finite, and that includes both external and internal factors. I could keep listing projects, because Lord knows I have them – the lists are now divided by age-category – but this seems like a good compromise, a balance of planning and not making choices so far away as to be arbitrary.

Anyway. Today's choices are in Chapter 27 and beyond. This is one of the times when what I ought to do and what I want to do are in pretty good harmony. I have some other tasks for the day, as always, but mostly it is a book day, and I am a book M'ris, and so it works quite well.

I've been reading Clare Bell's People of the Sky, borrowed from Stella, and it's pointing out to me how very narrow the line can be between depicting an underrepresented culture with respect and patronizing or oversimplifying it. I just dropped my books off at the U Library yesterday, didn't fetch any new ones: I have several from them still, and if I need more to read, I can always go back.

And speaking of more to read, I updated my Amazon list, because we have entered (cue ominous music) The Book Ban. For a month prior to birthdays and Christmas, we have a rule that people in my family are not allowed to buy themselves books, so that we have to deal with fewer instances of family members (coughGRANDPAcough) listing things they would love to have and then turning up on their birthday saying, "Oh, thank you, but I bought this for myself last week. It was just what I wanted, though! Or I wouldn't have bought myself one!"

My birthday is July 26. (Stella was saying something about trying to remember, and I laughed: as long-term readers of this journal know, there is no way anyone will be able to fail to see it coming. At all. Ever. I don't like to test my friends and family to see if they remember dates. I like to celebrate with them. It's a much better system.) I have entered the Book Ban well stocked from library sales and bookstoring with Kev, and if I get antsy, the library is two minutes away and the other library is available. It will be an easy Book Ban month, I think, even if I get sick or something book-consuming like that.

Ooh ooh, you know what crazy thing my new computer has? A functional CD player and a functional sound card! John Popper is rocking out "Love and Greed" even as I type this. On my computer, not Timprov's. I think I'll probably still listen to music on Timprov's computer, because he's got playlists set up that aren't just albums, but still. I haven't had a functional CD player in my computer since junior year of college. Such luxury!

It's time for me to get some work done, I think. Me and John Popper and the Finnish witches. Yeah.

Back to Novel Gazing.

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