Sunday, September 30, 2007


I dunno. Am I being "all avoidy," as Buffy would say, or just lazy? Or do I just need a little more time to assimilate the recent changes in my life before my brain will let me stop spinning my wheels and get on with the other things I should be doing? I want to be writing, and editing, to solve the problem of no longer having an HTML editor for updating the church web site, and to find out why my computer came up with a bizarre new glitch last night and what to do about it, if anything. But I didn't do any of those things today. Or last night. Or the night before that. I just couldn't make myself do anything useful at all.

After my usual Friday night all-nighter at the computer (and watching Doctor Who, both on cable and on the old laptop), I slept in to an astounding 4 PM - 10 1/2 hours of sleep! I don't regret this one bit, but it makes for a short day. Aside from a little shopping and a little cooking, I've mostly watched Doctor Who some more. I suppose I'm entitled to one day off a week, accomplishing absolutely nothing but rest and relaxation. Or am I? 'Cause you see, I screwed up. Tonight was the Feast of St. Michael at St. Michael & All Angels. I was scheduled to be crucifer at the 6:30 PM Mass, and I promised to be there. Repeatedly. But I forgot all about the Mass until 11:30 PM, long after it was all over. I'll apologize in the morning, but really, I hate letting people down. Somehow I do it anyway.

An attempt to photograph the mural on Broadway
downtown - at 15 MPH

I did read a bit of my email, though, and found more things to assimilate. Carly sent me a link to a list of public art around Tucson, and a request that I photograph more of it. I actually have made repeated attempts to short of few of the more famous, accessible examples, with limited success. The ones I'm posting here tonight after of the big photographic mural near the underpass on Broadway at the edge of downtown Tucson. The cool thing about it is that it shows real people from Tucson's past, photographed on the streets of downtown Tucson over 50 years ago. But it's tough to photograph, in the middle of a narrowing, heavily congested street that's partially blocked off due to construction. Even if I were to find parking nearby, which would be difficult, I'm not sure I could get a good shot of this, even on foot.

A second attempt a few days later was no more successful.

I should probably try it sometime, though. It's right near another large pice of public art: a pedestrian bridge in the shape of a giant Diamondback rattlesnake, complete with tail rattle. Like the mural, it's tough to capture in a photo, partly because of its size and surroundings, partly because I see it only when driving (or occasionally, riding in the passenger's seat). I know I've photographed it repeatedly, but Google disavows all knowledge of my having posted any other the attempts. I'll try again sometime.

Another bit of email today was from a reader I haven't heard from before, who points me toward a page of links from the British Fantasy Society. As an American and Anglophile, I find this both intriguing and of limited usefulness - some of the resources are unlikely to be available to me, but others probably are. He also mentioned a recent find in the "lost" episodes of Doctor Who, the BBC copies of which were destroyed by a BBC emplyee decades ago. Most helpful of all was he suggestion that I consider writing short fiction to get my name out there as a writer. That's part of what my somewhat neglected fiction blog is for, but it's very true that getting a story or three into F&SF or some other major magazine would be a huge boost. Not that it would be easy to do; I'd be competing with major writers for page space. The only submission I ever made to that particular magazine was over thirty years ago, and rightfully rejected. More to the point, I'm really not a short fiction writer for the most part. Nearly everything I write grows and grows until it's at least a novelette. I've managed the occasional vignette in Ficlets, but those aren't really stories; and my short pieces in Messages are Mâvarin apocrypha, letters and diary excerpts that shed additional light on events in the novels rather than standing on their own.

Since reading that email this afternoon, though, I have been thinking about reviving the only standalone Mâvarin short story I've ever attempted. The working title, "What About the Children?", is a bit of a joke, and the plot is very much up in the air. In fact, I've been trying to remember so several years now just what the premise was supposed to be. I think I've finally worked it out, but it's problematic. It involves young Del and Rani, ages 10 and 9, getting hold of some charm or potion or other magical doodad from Dupili, just as Del's "Uncle" Jamek is delirious with fever. Both boys are keen to learn secrets the adults have been keeping from them, especially after Jamek says some odd things during his illness. Unfortunately for the story's viability, I can't let either Del or Rani learn anything really important, because if they do it messes up Heirs of Mâvarin. Nor do I want to use the narrative device known as a "reset button," and have the kids learn all, only to have their memories wiped afterward. Still, I like the idea of their wanting to know about their mysterious, absent fathers, and the problem Shela would face trying to keep Del from learning the truth too soon.

And of course there's also the Jace story to be working on. Sarah K and I are supposed to be collaborating on that, but at the moment i have no clue how to proceed.

My question is this: am I ready to play around with these two stories, or to get back to editing Chapter 28 of Mages? Are Tuffy's illness, the DAW rejection and the new job so brain-jarring that I have to play Monster Match for hours at a time just to cope? Or is that just ordinary, borderline OCD behavior, getting in the way of better, more life-affirming activities?

Tell you what. Tomorrow I will give at least an hour to Jace, young Del or both, and another hour to Mages. I also have the 2008 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market; I should at least glance at it. If I find myself unable to accomplish anything on any of these tasks, I'll know that I really do need more time to assimilate the recent shocks in my life. But if I can get stuff written and edited, it will be a much better distraction than double-clicking on Daleks and Ood, and make me feel better about myself as I nudge myself back in the direction of my lifelong goals.


Broadway underpass mural: Windows to the Past, Gateway to the Future

Diamondback Bridge


Wil said...

Get thee to Open Office dot Org and download the full suite. It has a perfectly fine HTML editor contained within it. It's free. It works. And, there's an ever growing community of users offering suggestions and making improvements in it's open sourceness.

I've offered my advice on your writing in the past. Being the nearly 60-y.o. curmudgeon that I am, I'm pretty sure my advice is on target. That you choose to ignore it is up to you. So be it.

In general, we ALL need time to assimilate the kinds of changes you've recently been subjected to so forcefully. If I was a religious sort, the platitudes about "God's will..." would be appropriate now. Suffice it if I suggest you take a nice long walk with Tuffy in the foothills today and get yourself away from the maelstrom you have found yourself in of late.

julie said...

Google also has a pretty decent HTML editor available. Again, it's free. I use Visual Web Developer. It's free, but it may be way overkill for what you're doing.

I do agree that you might want to consider shorts. The market is changing. I can think of some small presses that may be interested in novelette-length works. Have you thought of putting three or four related works together? It would get you a pub credit that could help you sell the novels.