In Which The Frog Is Packed

2 October 2003

Okay, we're really doing this: I packed the frog.

We have a little ceramic frog that sits by the kitchen sink holding the scrubby pad in its mouth, and it's in a box with the canisters of flour and sugar and all. A lot of that kitchen stuff, I'm now finding, looks like part of the landscape to me. We have a fridge, we have a dishwasher, we have a frog. Except we're not packing the fridge and the dishwasher. The toaster is on the list like that, and the blender, and the knife block. And they all have to go. The computer. Everything.

I know you all know this. I realized it intellectually about fifty boxes ago. But knowing is one thing, and packing the frog is quite another.

It's Mark's grandpa's birthday today. Yay, Mark's grandpa! I hope he's having a great day. I hope Mark's grandma is feeling enough better that they can celebrate a little. That would be good. She was in the hospital overnight, but it sounds like she gets to go home today and is feelign better. Let's hope that continues.

The moratorium on response letters seems to have continued. No acceptances, no rejections, no notices of waiting until final decisions, no market changes that I've heard of...nothing. I suppose it's better not to have as much to worry about finishing. But I have the feeling it's going to show up here or in Eagan before I have everything set up anyway.

I finished reading The Young Unicorns -- sigh. Madeleine L'Engle shouldn't attempt to write street gang members, not even as minor characters. But I love that book anyway, flawed as it is. I started Pamela Dean's The Secret Country in anticipation of being able to buy the sequels soon -- and at home! At Uncle Hugo's!

Sometimes the goodness of these things just catches me entirely off guard. No reason it should, of course. But still.

It's just recently that I've realized that I love YAs the way I love speculative fiction, as a genre, on the whole. Which doesn't mean that there aren't YAs I hate. Of course there are, just as there are SF books and stories I can't stand. But as a genre, or more accurately as a category, I really do love these books. (I try to consistently refer to age-groupings of books as categories, because the genre of a YA can still be SF or mystery or anything you like.) I'm not sure whether I want to embrace or devour them. Something like both. But I'm really excited about getting some of my YAs back, and I have some YAs waiting for me that should be really good. And it just makes me want to go back to writing YAs, and not stop.

Of course, I get the "I should just go write YAs and forget about this grown-up stuff" feeling about once a week. I think it's wrong; I think there are stories I want and need to tell, that won't work as YAs. And there's no need for me to become a categorical monogamist in my writing. And I know, too, that when I get the Not The Moose Book manuscript unpacked and get to working on it again, I'm going to be excited about it. I'm still in love with that book. But YAs...they're just so much fun to write. They're lots of hard work, but compared to adult novels, so self-contained.

So I picked at another YA fantasy last night, wrote a few scene fragments. I've written several thousand words of scene fragments on this particular project, which may even get a title one of these first years. (I'm pondering The Dune in the Forest, but that may be lack of sleep and too many packing boxes talking. What do you think?) None of it is in complete scenes, though, and I'm wondering when it's going to sneak up on me and point out, rather plaintively, that it's already at a critical mass and I might as well write the rest anyway. But now is not that time.

I never intended to write them, you know? It's just that I started writing Fortress, and that's where it was going. It was not trying to become an adult novel. It wanted to be a YA. I could probably make the other place series into an adult duology instead of a YA quartet. I could even do it the sloppy way, by banging Fortress and The Grey Road into one book and the other two into one. Worse, I could just let myself ramble all over the place in the other two and make it into an adult trilogy. But...I like YAs. They're neat. And there are good people to work with in that field, and people get all emotionally involved with the books, and then you get nutjob 25-year-olds writing to authors about books they've loved for 17 years and begging them to write about what happened to Charles Wallace when he grew up. (Hmm. Or maybe that's just me, and writing to myself is not an option.) Anyway, I didn't read YAs at all from the time I was 11 or so until I started writing Fortress, and sometimes it's hard to remember that now. It's hard to remember like it's hard to remember that I really believed I'd be living here another year or more, doing physics research, trying to solve the two-body problem, commuting out to Livermore. I fit so well in my life right now.

My life, however, doesn't fit very well around me. I'm not sure where to put any more boxes, and I still have to cut up boxes to go around Aunt Mary's paintings. I don't relish the prospect of that at all. I suppose I could assign it to someone else -- Timprov or C.J. -- but that doesn't seem very nice.

We get C.J. tonight. We get to fetch him from the airport and take him up to Bistro E. Europe, and then Julia and Zdravko will feed us to within an inch of our lives and send us home with a mountain of Hungarian food. In the meantime, more packing. All of the things I couldn't pack before because it would make our lives miserable have to be packed now, or soon. It's Thursday. How did it get to be Thursday when I wasn't looking?

A week from today, if everything goes right, I will wake up in our very own house. That's more than a little strange, and a lot more than a little wonderful.

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