In Which The Little Voice Gets Squashed

30 July 2003

Everything still smells more today, in case you're wondering. The wood in our kitchen cabinets is smellier. The metal bands on the canisters that hold the sugar and flour and tea. Everything. And Timprov has confirmed that it's not just me.

I'm really ready for it to be done with the smelliness now. I'm a bit worried about getting on BART this way. BART is full of smells anyway. Too many people. But maybe it's less smelly in Oakland.

I finished reading Peg Kerr's The Wild Swans yesterday, and I really recommend it. I don't think I've been that touched by the death of a character in an adult work in ages. I'm sure my response would have been different if I'd been grown-up enough to be aware of the start of the AIDS epidemic -- when one of the storylines started, in 1981, I was turning 3. By the time I was old enough to be in school, my teachers had us parroting all the ways you couldn't get AIDS, which was confusing: they didn't tell us how you couldn't get any other disease. Why were they bringing up mosquitoes, toilet seats, shaking hands, and sneezing, only to say that those things didn't matter? What did it have to do with anything? It was just another example of grown-ups being weird. So I'd be interested in the reactions of people who were more adult in the early '80s. Still, though, good book, well-structured and well-told.

I also read Iain Pears' The Raphael Affair, which was a great disappointment to me after An Instance of the Fingerpost. I knew the two books would be quite different -- one was contemporary, the other historical, one quite large and the other rather slim, and so on. But I had hoped that the quality wouldn't be different. Alas. This was a clear case of "I suffered for my art, and now you can, too." Now the problem will be sorting out the good Pears from the bad.

But not immediately. Immediately, I'm going to be reading Gretel Ehrlich's This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland, which was a birthday present from Wendy The Big Seller and Daniel. Timprov said, "Oh, no! Now you're going to have to write a book set in Greenland." "I was always going to have to write a book set in Greenland," I said. "We just don't know which one yet. Now I can start on the research."

I worked on "Thresholds of Pain" and the Not The Moose Book yesterday, and it went well, I think, on both fronts. What I don't know, right now, is whether I'll be able to finish the draft of the Not The Moose before we move. No, not whether I'll be able to, whether I'll actually do it. I know I could do it -- could make sure that I pushed through it and didn't attack other projects until it was absolutely done, could make sure that it was the priority and seeing people and doing things were not. Combining that with the upcoming move, though, I'm not sure if I could do it and remain mentally and physically healthy. I need not to be run-down and ill for this move, if we can manage it, and I need not to be a nervous wreck. I think those might be able to work alongside finishing the draft of this book, but I'm not sure they can work alongside a frantic dash to the end of the draft. Do you see what I mean here?

It's tempting to set stringent goals and push myself hard on this. It's really tempting. That sort of time and work is fun. But I'd like to be able to be flexible in some ways I haven't felt ready to talk about in this journal. That's another thing. And I really feel like I've needed to do more short stories, more editing, more of everything without doing less of anything. I don't have that much margin built in right now. So what I'm trying to do less of is the stuff that's over the edge.

It also seems to help to reassure myself that I don't have to finish this by the time we move, I can do it when we get home and it will be all right. I reassure myself thoroughly on that front and then immediately throw a couple hundred or a thousand more words at the screen. Sometimes it's exhilarating to "have" to get something done posthaste, but often it's even more exhilarating for me to not have to, and to do it anyway.

Also, if I feel the urge to go back and do edits on Part 1 before finishing Part 2, I'd like to be able to respect that urge and go with it.

I can come up with all kinds of sensible reasons for this, and all kinds of reassurances, but there's still the little voice in the back of my head going, "Finish it! You know you want to!" And I might. But I'm not going to let the little voice be the only voice.

It's time to get some cranberry juice and jump in the shower. It's gone back to being grayish and overcast and on the verge of warm-enough-for-shorts and not-really-quite. We were doing quite well with seasons. Ah well. All good things etc. etc.

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