5 July 2001

Yesterday we had steaks and corn on the cob and deviled eggs for the Fourth of July for supper. (Something for everyone.) And do you know what I did to the corn? Tim knows. I shucked it. I did not clean it. I did not strip it. I did not, perish the thought, peel it. I shucked it. If I was getting fancy and wanted to show off my city roots, I could have husked it. But contrary to the signs in one of our local grocery stores, I did not clean, strip, or peel the corn.

Husk is a good verb for corn, see, but it doesn't apply widely. Whereas other things can be shucked. Clothes, for example. Just for use in your daily life, if you take off clothes in a peremptory fashion, you have shucked them. If your doctor had a good sense of language, she might ask you to shuck your clothes and put on the little backless paper thingy. She won't, but she might. More likely, when you came in from playing in the dirt, your mom would order you to shuck those clothes in the mud room and put something else on before you came into the house.

Well. My mom would have. I was never much of a dirt-playing kid, myself. I got the second grass stains of my life at college, playing football with my professors.

I worked on Reprogramming yesterday, and cursed AT&T @ Home. We had almost no connectivity yesterday. Pitiful. I also got angrier at one of my old friends than I've ever been. We had a phone conversation that got things straightened out, but -- well. In some ways it's nice to know that we can still reach new superlatives after having been friends this long, but "the angriest I've ever been with him" was just not something I was inspiring to improve upon.

On the up side, it crystallized a short story for me, hard. (I know, I know, how many soft crystals are there? But it went bump in my head.) I've had the title, "The Handmade's Tale," for quite awhile, and the themes proceed fairly obviously from the title and its associations. I just didn't have specific scenes, and without scenes, there is no story. But now I have scenes, and there is a story, and I'll hope to be done with it by the end of the week. I love fast stories. Although I'm not sure how fast this one has been, since I've had the title for two, two and a half years now.

I feel the same way when people talk about how quickly I write novels, or how I "crank out" novels. Well. No, actually. Or at least not as fast as they're thinking. I had the basic idea for Fortress of Thorns at the end of my sophomore year of college. It took the specifics two and a half years and a related short story to crystallize. So once I actually started writing, it's true that it didn't take me particularly long. But the story had to poke around in here for awhile first. It's the same for Reprogramming: I started the first two scenes my senior year of college and then put it aside until January. So it doesn't really take me a particularly short time to write a novel -- it's just that a lot of the time that it takes can also be used for other things.

I don't know how fast the Not The Moose Book will come out. It's going to be longer than anything I've done so far, and it's going to take more research, and -- oh. I'm just so fond of this book. I mean, I want to write all of the book ideas I have, but it is just time for this one.

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