Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Heights and the Depths...oh, and some books, too

Like my Weekend Assignment entry for August 16th, tonight's blogging is going to dispose of Scalzi's fun little topic quickly so I can move on to much more urgent matters. Stick around - it's going to be fairly extreme. But first, I need to answer Scalzi's question about books:

Weekend Assignment #184: What books do you want to read - but haven't yet? These could be new books, classic books you've just not gotten around to, books you've bought but haven't cracked the spines of, or a book you want to get but for some reason haven't. The salient characteristic is that you want to read it, but just haven't yet.

Extra credit: Do you usually prefer the book or the movie?

There must be dozens of books in this house that fit those criteria, possibly hundreds. Here are some of them:

The L'Engle books with the green arrows are some of her nonfiction. I've read all of her novels, but only some of the poetry, autobiographical journals, and book-length explorations of faith and art. When I do pick up one of these, I tend to page through for specific info on the writing of A Wrinkle in Time or some detail about her childhood or her her run-ins with the forces of censorship. Someday I want to read them through - and take notes as I go.

I read and loved Peter S. Beagle's first three books - A Fine and Private Place, The Last Unicorn, and I See By My Outfit - back in high school. Then at Clarion I actually met him. Sad to say, he didn't like what I'd written so far on The Tengrim Sword (later retitled Heirs of Mâvarin) and could even tell me why. I'm sure I'd love his later books anyway. That's why I bought them. But somehow I never quite get around to them.

There was a period, almost the entire decade of the 1990s, when I bought every Doctor Who paperback that came out, and every used title I could track down. I read every one of the Target novelizations (the skinny books above, and a few thicker ones), well over a hundred in all. I also read a bunch of the New Adventures and the early volumes of the Missing Adventures. Then the BBC took over publishing the books, and the local independent bookstore went out of business, and I was fed up with the New Adventures anyway. But I still have a few dozen Doctor Who books I've never read, something I'm just starting to rectify. At this moment I'm a little over halfway through War of the Daleks by John Peel. Peel is stepped in Dalek lore, and does his best to reconcile all the continuity issues in this book. Short version: it was all a trick.

I could show you unread books by Wrede and Bellairs and LeGuin and Tolkien and T.H. White and Meg Cabot and C.S. Lewis and... but let's not. As for book vs. movie, it depends. I prefer the film Mary Poppins, because it has a plot and the character is less annoying and unpleasant than the book version. The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are kind of a tossup. The rest of The Lord of the Rings is definitely better in book form, because of what Peter Jackson changed or left out. The tv movie of A Wrinkle in Time is almost as bad as Madeleine L'Engle said it was, with its changed names, too-pretty Meg and greatly-weakened philosophical and religious underpinnings. Rob Reiner's film The Princess Bride is slightly better than William Goldman's book, mostly because of the ending. Neil Gaiman's novel Stardust is three times as good as the pleasant but not quite wonderful film. And so on. As I said: it depends.

Now. On to other matters.

It's been obvious from my recent entries that it's been a roller coaster of a week, from learning I wasn't getting the long-term job at ARR! to getting a job interview elsewhere, and then cutting my stay at ARR! even shorter because that's what made sense. My mood from day to day has swung wildly, not only from the news but from my disappointments and anxieties and, well, hopes.

But today has been the most extreme day of all. I've had the best news of the week, and the worst news. And more bad news. And a crisis on top of that.

Here's how Tuffy looked this morning as I took her across town to Grant Road Small Animal Hospital for surgery. She's always delighted to ride in the car, and fortunately has never realized that the vet's office is almost always the destination. The drive was uneventful, and I checked her in without incident. Then I went on to ARR! for the next to last time. I disposed of my daily task rather quickly, and spent the rest of the day working on something else, having found a way to get what I needed to do it. Yay, me!

At 3:30 PM I left for my 4:00 PM job interview at Famous Vehicle Dealer (I think that's what I've decided to call it). Google Maps said it was a 22 minute drive, but then again it also said it was a good idea to make a useless right turn onto Technical Drive. I might have been on time (barely) were it not for the fact that FVD's complex is large and confusing. Not even the employees know how to give correct directions to where I had to go. I think it took four attempts, maybe five, because I found my way to the right place.

But here's the thing. three things, actually:
  1. The controller knew that the place is a mess, and didn't blame me for not navigating it on the first try and on time.
  2. The job she described suited my skills and interests almost perfectly.
  3. I start Monday.
Yes, you read that right. I got the job! I'll be a temp for the two days or so it will take to pass the drug screening and the background check, and then I'll be hired directly. Woo-hoo! I was giggling hysterically as I drove away. This time I wasn't unemployed for even a day! Finishing at ARR! as of Friday turned out to be exactly the right thing to do.

But the day went downhill after that.

John called me during the job interview (bad form, John! But I suppose I should have had the phone turned off) to ask me to pick up Tuffy at 6 PM, because she wasn't ready when he went to pick her up. I got there at quarter after six. That's when I learned she has a tumor on her tongue, which they've biopsied and sent for analysis. Apparently it's unrelated to the benign tumors they removed from her head and side and back. That's right, there was a third one I didn't know about. The surgery consequently ran long. Tuffy came out all woozy, and looking like a Frankenstein monster dog with her shaved bits and stitches. I am not even going to show you what she looks like tonight, but it's enough to make children cower and cry. It darn near makes me cry. She will need painkillers and antibiotics, and even at that, $1,035 later, we're waiting for the dreaded call on whether the tongue thing is the Big C, and what the options are. John and I spent a lot of time tonight petting her and trying to make her comfortable. The best place for her right now seems to be in her usual spot in the hall outside the bedroom door, where I've laid out a clean bath towel to lie on. She doesn't seem to know how to lie down properly in her current fuddled state, so I've had to gently push her onto her good side, a couple of times now.

And when I got home, this was waiting for me. Can you tell what it is? It's my manuscript, with DAW's rejection letter. It's a very nice form rejection, all about commercial uncertainties and the difficulty of launching a new author, and saying that many people rejected by DAW have gone on to successful writing careers elsewhere. It all makes perfect sense, but it doesn't help much. And why did it have to come back today of all days, to further spoil my good news?

But wait, there's more. When I went to my computer and started trying to close windows I no longer needed (such as my resume, and Google Maps directions to FVD), I was surprised to discover that Word thought I should save changes to my resume. I was more surprised when I saw that my first name was now missing at the top of the page. I said "no" to saving and closed it, only to watch helplessly as Word proceeded to delete line after line of text from Mages Chapter 28, as if I were holding down the Delete button. I wasn't, and the actual, physical delete key wasn't stuck, either. Eventually I somehow managed to close it without saving, but then I was in Firefox, watching in horror as the phantom delete key deleted forty emails in rapid succession. I couldn't get to Task Manager, because the computer couldn't execute control+alt+delete while trying to keep up with the Cyber command: "delete...delete...delete...." I opened the Start menu, and the computer promptly asked me if I really wanted to delete programs from it! When I checked the recycle bin (only one item), the computer wanted to know if I really wanted to delete the recycle bin itself! Finally I used the power button to stop this, but I didn't hold it down long enough. The problem just started up again when it came out of sleep mode. So we held it down again, longer, and rebooted in safe mode. Having spent an hour scanning for viruses and worms and such, Norton found nothing wrong; but when I rebooted again, the phantom delete was gone. The deleted emails turned up in the "Recently deleted" folder, which had claimed to be empty while all that deleting was going on. My recently-completed scene in chapter 28 is still intact, and I should be able to reconstruct anything I did after that, more or less.

I have a feeling that there was yet another bit of bad news today, but if so, my brain has decided to spare me from remembering it for now. Oh, yeah. Scalzi didn't link to my Monday Photo Shoot. I must have forgotten to leave the link in comments. Compare to the rest of the news, it's trivial - but it's the first time that's ever happened with a Scalzi entry, except for one time two years ago or so when he just plain forgot to list me.

But good grief! What a day!


Carly said...

Hi Karen

I am sorry about the day you had, I certainly know how it feels when Murphy's Law is determined to shadow, an otherwise, lovely day.

I have to say, however, that as bad as it all seems to be right at this moment, there isn't a single thing that happened that you can't face tomorrow, after a long, deep sleep.

Keep sending in the manuscript. You know you wrote a quality story, you just need to gather your wits and your courage, and keep knocking on those publishing doors. Have faith in yourself.

I am so sorry about Tuffy, she is such a cutie, but don't dwell on what it "might' be. Wait until you hear the news, and then deal with what has to be done. Animals pick up on our moods, trust me on that, she wouldn't feel good if she thought the humans she loves are worried about her.

YOU GOT THE JOB... BASK IN IT. Buy yourself a nice lunch tomorrow, or treat yourself to a small indulgence, and forget the unpleansantness for a little while. No guilt... just focus on what's going right for one whole hour. All too often we get stuck in giving the bad events in our lives the attention, while downplaying the positive. Weird, since we gain energy from the good stuff that happens to us.

Now, as for the computer. Hon, that sounds like a key specific virus to me. Try downloading a free program from a different company. There are many, many programs out there, and see if another one agrees with Norton. Just don't forget to disable the Norton before you launch, and whatever you do, don't work on the computer during the scan. Been there done that!


Astaryth said...

WOW! What a day you had!!

Soooo... starting from the top. I don't know if I'll even attempt Scalzi's question because even peeking at my TBR pile is scary and then I also have a 'wish' list that's even longer. LOL! Lately I've been discovering authors with a series I like that already has a couple of book entries so I am buying the books several at a time ;p Poor G just shudders when I mention the book store!

Now for the Congratulations... YEAH about the new job. It sounds just about perfect.

Poor Tuffy. I hope it all turns out benign, and I have my fingers crossed. Just in case it doesn't.. be sure to ask a lot of questions about the treatments before making your decision. When DK (my kitty) was diagnosed, at first I was all "What can we do? and when do we start?" but after looking into the treatments, side effects, time she would have to spend at the vets (which she -hated- being away from home), we opted for the treat the symptoms, make her feel as well as we could and let her live out her last days feeling as good as she could, surrounded by her family and home. We spoiled her rotten. She let us know when she was finished fighting, and we released her with dignity. We were even lucky enough to have the Vet do it right here at home so she didn't have to take that 'last trip' to the vets office.

The Rejection letter? Phhhhhhhttttt! just keep sending it out. Someone is going to recognize your talent and how great your stories are and the DAW will be smacking themselves in their foreheads for passing you up!

Finally, the computer. Admittedly it might be a virus/adware, etc, but if you always leave her computer on (which it sounds like you do) Sometimes the silly thing just needs rebooting to fix a strange glitch. A few days ago every time I would try to put a ' character in an AOL comment (you know like the word didn't) it would take me to a search box!! Really! I tried a couple of journals and it did it in them all!!! I rebooted and the problem disappeared. {shrug} Go figure!

Again, WOW! What a roller coaster day you had.

Sarah said...

Whew, that is quite a lot for one day!

Congratulations on the job. I hope it turns out to be the best you've ever had!

I'll send good vibes for Tuffy, and for the future of your manuscript.

Becky said...

Good grief! OK, let's bypass all the bad news (I hope Tuffy is OK!) and move on to the good stuff. Yay! You have a new job!!! I'll bet you get good discounts on new cars too as an employee perk. Maybe you'll get a brandy NEW car at some point soon. :-) Always look on the bright side of life...(humming tune from Spamalot the Musical).

Anonymous said...

I am sorry about all your bad news.
Hang in there and don't give up on your book.
I hope Tuffy is feeling better soon. Will say a prayer that she doesn't have the big C.
Hope tomorrow is better.

DesLily said...

wow..surely you've had better days!

I don't understand why Daw would make someone go thru the TROUBLE and EXPENSE of sending a full manuscript when they obviously aren't going to accept a NEW AUTHOR due to the fact that they don't want to go through the "trouble" of promoting any new writer... that upsets me. They could say on their website that they are not taking on first time authors! I hope this doesn't mean you won't get ticked at them and stop trying to find a publisher! For the record, when i searched many publishers and agents, they all seem to "put down" fantasy.. it seems to be the hardest form of writing to get sold. SO DON'T GIVE UP!

gosh.. I am sure keeping my fingers crossed for Tuffy. But since the other tumors are benign, there's probably (hopefully) a good chance this one will be too!

Congrats on the job!! Thank goodness for the good news or the day would have been a real bust!! I hope you like the people at this job as much as the last one Karen!!

Paul said...

Lucky you were able to save (and/or recover) everything. Most importantly, the bits of your book. Congrats on the job. I'd say your recent completion of your education has been very valuable. Good on you.

Hope everything works out fine with Tuffy. Funny how these silly animals work their way into our hearts, eh?