In Which Our Heroine, The Great Northern Geek, Shelves and Advises

29 October 2003

All the bookcases are assembled. This feels like a major load off my mind, because now we can shelve and shelve and shelve. Of course, the urge to do so is a bit overwhelming right now, in part because shelving books is a task for which one can see immediate progress. Now that shelf is full and that chair is empty, hurrah for shelving. And it really does need doing. But so does my contract work, and so does the Not The Moose, so I'm trying to keep some time set aside that isn't for housework. People whose jobs take them outside the house have this automatically. I should, too.

And I got to really start on The Magician's Ward last night, and it's fun, although I'm fonder of Sorcery and Cecelia so far and am anxiously awaiting The Grand Tour. (Just what I needed: more books on my "to anxiously await" list.)

Timprov and I are mumbling at each other about a collab that should win us the Great Northern Geek Award for this year and possibly next. "The True Tale of Carter Hall" is my working title for it, with "The Continuing Adventures of Carter Hall" or "The Further Adventures of Carter Hall" to follow. So it is a Tam Lin story. It's also a hockey story. I kept thinking, "Why aren't there any spec fic stories about hockey? It's baseball, baseball, baseball." But there wasn't anything that jumped out at me to be written until we were talking about being Tam Lin's roommate, which brought about the working title, and Timprov said, "Carter Hall? He plays defense." Big burly kinda guy, bruiser, slam into you as soon as look at you. Which made Tam Lin the wiry little Asian forward, and we were off.

(We have always been a trifle off.)

"Tithe to hell -- on ice!" "Checking the Dark Queen into the boards!" It just works. It's set in Bemidji. And how often do those two sentences go together? It would be nice to be writing a Tam Lin story the week of Halloween, but I don't think either of us has the time. Still, I think it'll be great fun, and I've been happy with our collabs to date. And Karina is working away at my collab with her, too, so someday I'm going to be the collab queen. As well as Great Northern Geek.

In the meantime, Shelving Queen. Only two days until Mark gets home, and while I keep reminding myself that not everything has to be perfect for his arrival, a few things perfect would be nice. We've had good help. I keep telling myself it'll be fine, and Mark keeps telling me it'll be fine, too. But that just might be because I promised to make him peanut butter cookies. Dunno.

The other day, Cal was talking to me about a parent he knows who wants to encourage her daughter's interest in writing. And the first thing that popped into my head was to make sure she wasn't too encouraging. I think it was really important to me that my parents let my stuff be my stuff, not their stuff. Were they supportive of my writing when I was younger? That's a hard question, because if I say no, I feel like I'm being critical, when in fact I mean it as praise. They were not unsupportive. But if my parents had been actively supportive of my writing, asking after it constantly, wanting to see it, acting all-writing, all the time, it might well have soured me on the whole business. Not out of spite, just because it needed to be private.

On the whole, my folks understood quite well the need for kids to have interests they could confidently call theirs, and I'd taken piano lessons for years before I knew my mom really wanted me to (she acted like it was a concession to me). Now, of course, I get writing books or a Waterman or other encouraging, professional presents from the folks at Christmas. But now is the time for it: I've already committed to this as a line of work. And I have my mom so trained not to critique my work that she asked permission to tell me how much she liked my last book. I could probably take unsolicited family criticism now, but it would have made things extremely difficult when I was 10 or 12 or even a few years ago. (Family criticism is worse than the other kind, because it's harder to just shrug off.)

So I think it's pretty important not to encourage a kid to death, is the upshot. That's my writing-parent advice for the day; that's what worked in my family. When they sit you down and say, "I've written this novel now," you say, "Great! Congratulations!" And then they say, "You can read it," and you say, "Great! Thanks!" And then they say, "What did you think?" And then you tell them, and you tell them, even if it means that you were confused about the bit with the aardvark. And when it gets rejected, you say, "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry," and you say, "It'll happen someday," and you may say, "That editor will be sorry he/she turned down this book!" But really that's more the grandma line. And that's what I know about what has worked so far. Stay tuned six or seven books from now, and I'll report back.

I may go to Hastings today. I may go to the library. I may stay here and continue whirlwind productivity. I'm not sure yet. I'm pretty sure I'll do whatever it is I'm doing in a sweater, because that seems to be the way of things these days. I hope that I'll eventually want to wear some of my non-sweater tops on a normal day, but I keep looking outside and seeing the lovely fall, damp and chilly and right, and thinking, "Oh, time for a sweater."

And there are people who prefer fires and ash to this weather? Count me right out of that, thanks. I'd count my godfather and my cousins and Zak and Sharon and a whole bunch of other people out, too, if it was up to me, but as we have established so many times, I do not run the world. So there you have it.

Back to Novel Gazing.

And the main page.

Or the last entry.

Or the next one.

Or even send me email.