Work and Worry
21 September 2002
I just started my day by killing a really huge spider on the kitchen ceiling with an Eleanor Arnason novel. It was the nearest trade paperback, and it's black (like spider guts), so wiping it off thoroughly afterwards seemed like enough. Still not my favorite way to start off, though.
But yesterday went all right. Productive. Thirteen pages of Not The Moose book -- woohoo! It's really flowing now, and I'm just going to go with it for as long as it goes. I feel like I'm back to the level of productivity at which I was working while I was drafting The World Builders, and while that won't give me a book in three weeks in this case, it certainly won't hurt. Might as well take advantage of it while it's here, and then if it does taper off, maybe I'll have done enough that I can just coast through to the end. I don't know for sure. But it's worth finding out. I love times like these. I love my job.
I also read a bunch of stuff yesterday -- I finished The Queen's Man, which was better than I remembered Cruel As the Grave being, but I haven't read the latter in awhile, so I might be wrong. I still don't like it quite as well as Penman's other books, though. And I read Alan Garner's The Weirdstone, which noted in the inside cover that it had been published in England as The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. I hope that wasn't another example of dumbing down for the American audience, like the first Harry Potter book, or that if it was, it's been corrected in later editions (this one was from the 1960s). I read Chinese America: History and Perspectives 1995, a volume that evidently comes out yearly with essays and articles. I'll probably see if the library has any more of them while I'm researching this book. And now I'm ploughing through Jan Harold Brunvand's The Study of American Folklore, which is not particularly good as a book, but it's been great for spurring ideas for the NTMB and helping me understand one of the major characters in the third section.
Brunvand mentioned one technique for folklorists trying to gather lore that particularly caught my fancy. He said that often people would do things they thought might be considered bad luck, and that would get their sources going on what one was to do or not to do, for good or bad luck. Which is fine and innocuous for people who don't have any reason to believe in magic or luck, as my character would not, going into things. But in a place where magic is used reliably and regularly, well, the results may not be what the character would expect. At all. And I think I can get scene out of that, and it'll be a lot of fun.
I've been having fun with my work in the last few days. Go figure.
Alas, though, the mail is not coming through for me. And as my grandparents still haven't gotten their package of books from me, and I still haven't gotten answers out of the mail people, I'm not sure what else might be hung up along the way. I haven't gotten very many response letters at all this month. Even some of the usually speedy people are a bit slow, and I'm trying to decide whether to withdraw a short-short from a semi-pro. I hate withdrawing stories, but on the other hand, sheesh, there's only so long I'm willing to wait.
Maybe today will be the wonderful mail day I've been waiting for. Uh huh. Yeah. I'm just about sure of it.
The neighbors have started yelling already. At least they're outside in the parking lot. The great thing about the parking lot is that when they slam things, the floor doesn't shake.
I am so ready for suburbia.
My favorite line from "Monk" last night was, "I tried that once, making every minute count. It gave me a headache." When I'm in this kind of good-work mood, it doesn't give me a headache at all. I have a hard time doing anything else. My brain is doing three or four interesting things in any given second. It's nice.
Unfortunately, I've been worrying a lot lately. Everyone seems to be fine collectively -- that is, I don't know of anyone whose family or relationship I should worry about falling apart. It's just individually that I've been worrying about people. Mark. Timprov. Lots of people. I was thinking that the problem with being a grown-up was that you were old enough to worry about your older family members. But I think I did this before, when I had the data for it. My Onie is a good example. The last letter she wrote me was kind of strange, like she'd hit 90, looked around, and realized that most of the people who would have hit 90 with her were gone. It sounded like it was quite jarring for her, even though she had a good birthday party, and I'm kind of worried about her, even though I know she's resilient and will probably be fine, and it's common in our culture to take stock at the base-10 birthdays and so on. (I was going to say it's natural, but I'm not sure if it is -- I know there's nothing particularly outstanding about base-10, but I don't know everything in the world about human cultures and aging, and I've gotten more and more hesitant about labeling things "natural." Although I suppose it could be "a natural reaction for the person she is in the culture she's in," that would be an okay "natural.") I'm not sure she would have written me that kind of letter when I was 12, but if she had, I probably would have worried. So I guess it does relate to me being a grown-up, but more from other people's side.
Anyway, I'm worried about pretty near everybody. I have one friend who called and talked about what he doesn't like about how he's been living his life, and another friend who sent a few quick and disturbing e-mails and hasn't had time to get into any more detail about what's going on with her. And then there are the ones I don't hear from, and the ones I can't seem to stop worrying about when I do hear from them...I know part of it, a large part of it, is that I'm just a natural-born worrier. And I think I should probably try to worry less. It's just that the line between worrying about someone and thinking/caring about them when they have a problem is fairly thin. It's thin for me, anyway. If you have tips for thickening it, please do let me know. (Corn starch. Corn starch is good for thickening things.)
Sigh. Zed linked to Green Eggs in Hell, which was really amusing to me. Go read it. It's much more cheerful than me worrying.
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