Oatmeal and Antagonism

7 December 2002

So one of the great mysteries of my life has been solved. Actually it's not that great. Kind of a small mystery, really. The mystery was, "Why don't I like maple syrup on pancakes?" I like maple syrup on French toast. I like maple syrup on waffles. But I would rather not eat at all than eat pancakes with maple syrup on them. And the answer to this question is, "Because they didn't have oatmeal in them."

I'm really fond of these oatmeal pancakes. They have a solidity that previous pancakes have lacked, to the detriment of previous pancakes. This is just good stuff.

I hope today doesn't live in infamy. Enough with the infamy already. In fact, I could go the rest of my life without any dates that shall live in infamy. Dates that shall fade into obscurity are good.

I slept until 6:15 this morning! Yay!

So. Yesterday I recalled why I don't use the "younger" sections of the library more often: because they're a mess. Our library has divided the age groupings into picture books, children's books, juvenile books, and young adult books. So far so good. Except that 1) they don't do a very good job of deciding what's for each age range and 2) they don't do a very good job of shelving the books consistently. So the library computer will say that a certain book is checked in and on the shelf in the children's section, and it might be, or it might be in the YA section, one of the adult genre sections, or the juvenile section, or it might be on the bookmobile, or it might just not exist any more. There's really no telling, and the librarians tend to put a good deal of faith in "the computer says" without remembering that humans are doing their shelving.

Ah well. I did get a couple of books to finish off the Chinese immigration project, and I got a moderate stack of YAs. I finally finished Enigma last night, and I started Sarah Ryan's Empress of the World. Which is pretty good so far, but I don't know how much time I'll have to read it today. I'm going to be working on the Chinese book as much as I can. I got a bunch of it done yesterday, but there's still a lot left to go. The hardest part right now is the sidebars. I'm required to have seven of them describing interesting people who have immigrated or typical immigration experiences or other random things like that. I've got about half of them figured out, but I'm really not sure what to do with the others. Hmm. It'll come to me as I get closer to done with the main text, I suppose. I hope.

What's really unfair about back pain is that it gets all psychological. Yesterday afternoon, my back was tight. I needed to do yoga. I knew I needed to do yoga. And yet I felt that I should not do yoga, that I should not, in fact, do anything, because it was all futile and working further on the book was futile, and doing any Christmas cards was futile, and, in fact, sitting itself might be futile, but the other options weren't looking so great, either. The brain triumphed; I got brief reassurances from Timprov and did the back relaxation routine, and sure enough, it helped, the feelings of futility vanished, and all was, if not well, more or less so. But I think that's cheating. I really do. Isn't that why we have pain in the first place? So that when physical stuff is wrong, we can get an alert to it? And discomfort could help with that, too, if pain was insufficient or inappropriate. But to just throw in emotional stew -- that's just not fair.

My mom kept saying to her Girl Scout troop, "If there's one thing I hope I taught you girls, it's that life isn't fair." But that doesn't mean that it's great fun when it's not.

We occasionally alarm people who don't live here with our verb-use of Nixon. My shoulders, for example, are not very Nixoned this morning, but they were Nixoning like mad before I did my yoga. I'm trying to keep them consciously un-Nixoned. It's a good verb, to Nixon. Even if it's not a good thing to do.

The other day, I was talking to Scott about some edits I have the opportunity to do, and how excited I was about them. (And I am. They feel right in my head. They feel all kind of dark, dark blue, and smooth like a peeled hard-boiled egg, only firmer than that. Like a hard-boiled egg ought to feel when frozen, but does not. Trust me that this is a good thing, even if your synaesthetic sense of story is nonexistent or dislikes hard-boiled eggs.) And he asked me, since it was a moot point in this particular case, how much I'd be willing to do edits that I didn't like, edits that didn't seem like they'd make for a better story. Even edits that seemed like they'd make things worse.

I couldn't really answer that. Not enough information. I would think that if an editor asked me to change something, he or she would say why -- that's how it's worked so far. Some editors may be totally irrational, but it's best if we can try working with the ones who aren't instead. And if there's a clear reason why something should be changed, maybe how it can be changed would be up for discussion? Maybe?

I know that I'm willing to do things that aren't exactly in line with how I thought a story should go. I'm not in love with my own deathless prose, and there are times when the story needs a quirk I didn't see before. But it seems like the question presumes a conflict that doesn't have to be there. I want my stuff to be read. If the editor didn't want my stuff to be read at all, he/she wouldn't go to the trouble of coming up with ways to improve it. So we both want my stuff to be read...right? Yes? This is the goal here, and then everybody is happy?

It just seems like it's too easy to come up with questions that presume a fundamental antagonism between two people or things with an answer somewhere along a spectrum between them. Presuming antagonism is not my favorite way to go, though.

All right. I'm off to do the many things that need to get done. I hope in a totally non-antagonistic fashion, although where my back is concerned, all bets are off.

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