The Lorelei Signal has published my short story, “Pattern, Piece, Block, Stitch” complete with an illustration by the wonderful Marge Simon. Check it out here.
Or so I hope, anyway. I’m due to finish up my master’s degree this spring, after almost four years and countless hours of work, anxiety, and stress. The only real thing standing in my way now is the critical introduction to my creative thesis. I should have finished it long ago, but, if I’ve learned one thing from this experience, it’s that academic writing is not where my heart lies. Getting this thing out and down on paper is like pulling teeth, for lack of a more creative simile. I’m determined, however, to practice the BIC philosophy this weekend and get a draft I can send on to my committee next week.
January looks to be interesting, to say the least, as in addition to thesis work and a fiction workshop, I’ve also signed up for a weekly flash fiction challenge at an online writer’s community where I’m a member. Prompt on Friday, story due by Sunday evening. Despite the (added) stress I think it will be good for me, however, as I’m a born and bred procrastinator. Sometimes the only thing that keeps me honest is a deadline.
Cold and gray outside, the kind of weather that makes me dream of daffodils. The next two months will be tough to get through.
So the weatherman says we won’t see the sun again until at least January 15th. Not good news to someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder every year. I’m looking into light therapy, and taking extra vitamin D, which I’m hopeful will help. The last two years haven’t been very bad, but I’ve already had one major anxiety attack and we’re only a week into the season. Not off to a great start. I feel myself dreading contact with other people, and that’s not a good sign.
Yesterday I started a project to clean, organize, and put away the Christmas decorations in boxes labeled by room. Putting things in order almost always helps my mood. Today I’ll continue with that, as well as get a couple of pages done on my thesis, which is wildly overdue. I think it’s one of the things contributing to my current reluctance to write fiction–the guilt I feel because of not finishing the damn thing. Once I get it out of the way maybe I’ll be able to move on.
What I really want is to be outside, digging in the warm earth, tending my plants and vegetable garden; sitting quietly, feeling myself diffuse into the natural world.
Oh, well. At least I have windows.
Just a few years ago I didn’t even have a “to do” list. Now I have so many bullshit little tiny details to take care of on a daily basis that I need one; multiple, in fact. My life is eaten away by the tiny bullshit details. Part of me hates it, and part of me understands that this whole delicate, crystalline structure of a life I’ve created is what I wanted, and the tiny bullshit details are the necessary evil that keeps the whole damned thing glued together. The inordinate amount of my time it takes to deal with it all every day is damned annoying, though.
At some point you just realize that it’s all relative, I guess. Without all of this I’d no doubt still be whining; complaining that it was too quiet and lonely and the environment was in some way inadequate. I’m a complainer.
Random factoid: The Anglo-Saxons called the native Britons ‘Wielisc’ or ‘foreigner.’ Which is interesting because the AS were actually the foreigners, technically speaking. Eventually it became our word Welsh. What was left of them was driven into Wales, Cornwall, and Southern Scotland. I have sort of a nineteenth century romantic fascination with them, I’ll admit. Though maybe they were never wiped out at all.
Maybe I’ll try to learn Gaelic when I get out of prison.
Cold again. Winter is come early this year. This doesn’t bother me terribly; for us it’s more of a long autumn. The land is beautiful as it falls asleep. What I end up hating is late January, most of February. From my point of view winter should end after Christmas. I’m almost insane by the time March comes around every year.
Don’t feel like writing. Anything. This is what graduate school does to your soul.
Because he lost so much goddamned history, and I’m a history girl, you know. Most people don’t give much thought to things that happened 500 years ago. Me? That shit haunts my dreams.
Cold, really cold, today. The first freeze of the season arrives after sunset. Later, after I’ve run around covering the tender perennials with frost cloths and finished stowing ferns in the garage for the night, I’ll say goodbye to the garden, tuck her in for the long winter’s nap. It’s always bittersweet for me; on the one hand, the cycles of the seasons are so beautiful, and necessary, but on the other, I never like saying goodbye, even if it’s only temporary. The butterfly garden is especially hard to take. This year it really took off, and not a day went by when we didn’t have several different species flitting around.
A couple of sales to announce this week. The Lorelei Signal has accepted “Pattern, Piece, Block, Stitch,” my story about the Fates set in the South. I’m glad it’s finally found a home, as it’s been bouncing around in slush pile land for a while now.
The other sale was my poem “Terra Firma,” which was accepted for the “Summer is Dead” issue of Goblin Fruit. I love, love, love Goblin Fruit–each issue is carefully constructed around a theme, and the poetry is always just gorgeous. This issue features work by Schweta Narayan (one of the co-editors of the equally brilliant/beautiful Stone Telling), Mari Ness, C.S.E. Cooney, and Andrea Lam, among others. I received the acceptance on Friday and the issue went live on Monday, which was a happy bonus.
Tonight will be long, working on fiction and then trying my best to catch up on homework for my class in Old English Grammar & Literature. I should probably do the homework first, since a quiz is scheduled for tomorrow, but I haven’t been able to write fiction in days, and I’m starting to feel it scratch at my insides with those long, sharp claws. A pain that I’m used to.
After the cut, some recent photos from the soon-to-be-asleep butterfly garden:
I named this blog The Persistence of Vision because that’s what writing has always been to me–a series of incidents that seemed sporadic and unconnected, until I looked at it from a longer viewpoint and realized it had been a thread, perhaps the only true thread, running through my life as long as I’ve known how to hold a pencil and make intelligible marks on a piece of paper. It had that double-meaning thing attached to it, of course–the implication, or perhaps belief, on my part, that persistence and vision will at some point bring about success.
But that’s a fairy tale, of course. History is filled with artists whose genius wasn’t “discovered” until after their death, or, worse still, never discovered at all. How many books that could have changed everything have rotted away, unread, unappreciated, unknown?
This isn’t to imply that I’m some kind of undiscovered genius. At over 100+ rejections (and counting) this year alone, I don’t have any illusions on that score. My point is that persistence, and vision, are deeply personal things. They have to be, whether or not you’re a genius. I’ll continue to write, as I always have, even if I never sell another story or poem. I write for me.
Ideomancer is a beautiful online speculative fiction magazine, full of myth and magic, great writing and beautiful artwork. I”m very pleased that my poem, “Princess” is part of the current issue. I wrote this poem one day when I was in a bad mood, feeling fierce and completely unwilling to take shit from anybody. I was thinking about fairy tales that day (I think about fairy tales a lot), and Cinderella in particular; about wicked stepmothers and hateful stepsisters and fickle princes. And I thought, what Cinderella should have done was burn the whole damned castle down, just burn it down with everyone in it. (See? Bad mood.) Screw slaving away for years in the ashes, screw having to depend on fairy godmothers or birds (depending on which version you like) to deceive a prince and win his rarefied affections. Just. burn. it. all. down.
The result? “Princess.”
You can read it here.
So here’s the vegetable garden as of today. Five regular beds, one narrow bed with a wire trellis for the blackberries, and the herb spiral. This weekend we’re scheduled to put in another trellised bed and plant muscadine grapes. Out of frame on both sides is the orchard–citrus, apples, plums, peaches, and mayhaws.
It’s a huge amount of hot, sweaty, miserable work, but the payoff is spectacular. Home grown vegetables and fruits; the ability to produce our own food. The goal is to eventually grown all our own produce, with a bit left over for giving to friends or donating. There’s even plans for a white picket fence to enclose the whole thing, but that will probably be a project for next year.