Monday, January 30, 2006

I have had wine

This post may be verrrrry interesting, as I will shortly pause this entry to go and fetch my third glass of wine.  Jacob's Creek Shiraz, for the detail oriented.  It is cheap, red, and yummy.

Also, I just corrected "third glass of wine" from "third glass of line" from that first sentence, so be ready to forgive type-os.

Uh-oh, apology in advance.  Upon going to bed, my husband asked, accusingly, if I had drank all the wine.  It was not true then, but it is now.  Mea culpa, Dan.  Tomorrow is payday, and I'll buy you another.

But anyway, to the post. 

So, I'm at my favorite part of the writing process, interestingly enough: I don't have a name for this, but it's a recurring stage, so it deserves one.  Probably edge-of-the-cliff stage.  I've spent the entire day wrestling with scene one of the governess story, and we've come to the edge of the cliff moment.  I will soon leap into a pit of despair and insanity, or I will find the answer.

Actually, that's not true and more's the pity.  I'm an enneagram four, so I love drama.  Anne of Green Gables and that wanting to be Lady of Shallot?  Yeah.  Except real life is never sufficiently dramatic.  You set yourself up for a nice "I'll find the answer or go crazy!" and wait to either die in a blaze of glory or ascend into nirvanna, and what happens is you're just soggy from too much wine and the damn scene is still a mess.  There is no justice.  And not nearly enough drama.

But hope is springing eternal that I"m about to Figure It Out.  My desktop toolbar or whatever that is which runs along the bottom of my screen has three governess documents, iTunes looped to Lamb's "Stronger (and that's really important), Firefox with two tabs, and then a dangerously untitled "document four" which has the keys to scene one.  A beat by beat slightly snarky breakdown of what the hell that scene, ideally, should be.

I don't have a good scene metaphor, but it's something along the lines of I have this INSANE MESS of crap that I keep piling into "Governess DLDD3" which consists mainly of three not at all connected conflicts, none of which I can bear to cut.  So I have killed myself all day at the laptop trying to find the magic lasso to yoke them.  I don't know if it's the wine or what, but I think I may have done it. Because if you live in my brain and have three unconnected conflicts, what you chiefly need is a FOURTH conflict to lay over the top as an external conflict that touches all three underling plots and makes them one.  If you read that and said, "Huh?"  you may need some wine.  Three glasses of Jacob's Creek Shiraz.  $8.99 a bottle.

Or maybe it's the song.  I don't know why, but if I listen to the same music over and over again while I try to write a scene, I figure stuff out.  This has been true my whole life. In college I listened to a tape of "Mozart Early Symphonies" while I studied Major British Authors II, and to this day if you play those songs quotes from the 17th, 18th, and 19th century British writers float thorugh my head.  All I know is right now I'm listening to "Stronger" on loop and I can just see Our Heroine pressed up against the wall, nowhere to go, no one to help her, not even believing in herself at this point, but way down deep in her core this song is playing (or some Regency equivalent) and that's why I found my throughline for the scene.

Or it could be the wine.

At any rate, I'm going to ride my alcohol-soaked happy bubble until I can't type straight, try to make that scene fly, and then go to bed.  And then probably read this entry and that scene tomorrow (with a headache) and cringe, but for TONIGHT, by God, it's going to be brilliant.  Either that or I'm sufficiently drunk that I can have a right proper despair.  We'll save the depressingly dull reality for tomorrow.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Did it. I have an outline. Now I'm going to go have a cookie.

just hell

Okay, I see several spelling errors in there (I KNEW I should have written it in Word) and now I can't seem to fix them. Well, we'll all just have to cope. Right, coffee and outline. Honestly, I'm going now.


If you read that and subject line and heard Johnny Five in your head, you are my kin in spirit if not in flesh.

So, this is a rambling about writing entry -- on the assumption that I have regular readers out there somewhere, in some other dimmension, if you don't care for the writing blather this is the time to go out for coffee.  Speaking of which, my tea has nearly run out and is cold, and coffee sounds really good. 

Right, that's settled -- coffee brewing.  So, forward.  Writing. 

Today is The Day.  Maybe.  Okay, that's not the power of positive thinking, Robert Schuller -- no really, today is The Day, no maybes.  Today I will establish the first working, beginning to end outline of Governess.  There will be three acts.  I thought for awihle four, and there could probably be a debate that act two is really acts two and three, but I believe we shall stick with the traditional three.  I think I might even know the end.  But when this happens today, on The Day, we reach a Heidi milestone as significant as the completing of the collage and reaching page 100 for the first time.  Because once I have a real working outline, I start drafting in a serious way.

Okay, maybe that's a lie, because I got a working outline for the farm story last summer and haven't touched it since, but there were kind of extenuating circumstances.  One was that I had the outline but I could still feel there was stuff to noodle. Also, I realized I was going to have to write bits I was at that time scared to write -- still am, but at that particular moment I just couldn't go there.  And really, if I hadn't, ATOS wouldn't be done. 

But this is definitely a Forward moment.  Right now it's almost as if telling myself the story in my head and watching Heidi's Personal Visualization is almost enough.  As soon as I start this outline, though, I'll be chomping to get the stuff written out so I can see it and share it with other.  And that's when the real hell begins, because no matter how good that outline is, Things Will Go Wrong.  The story will shift.  New characters will appear and then die off, and invariably I'll show the draft to somebody who, when the story is finished will still be thinking wistfully of Joe the Butler or somebody they bonded to and then I cut to pieces.  Right now I'd be worried about Froggie.  Except I'm bonding to Froggie, though I cut Fielding in ATOS and I thought I'd never do that.

Mind wandering.  Forward.

But it's going to happen.  I'm going to finish the outline, and then the great drafting starts.  I will move beyond page 100 and into act two.  And I have to say, I really like this story.  I'm really excited about it still, which is fantastic.  It's very possible I'm focusing on symbol and theme too early.  Almost without question I'm forcing stuff that shouldn't be there. 

I wonder if that's because I keep hearing Karen Harbaugh's voice in my head, saying to do things that will delight the reader.  At this point I might be mostly delighting myself, but I think that counts.  Like, I'm keeping the lavender bonnet.  I wrote this sequence I knew I had to cut -- my God, it killed the pacing, but it was so cute.  And in it the hero buys this bonnet for the heroine beacuse she lost hers, and his friend tells him he can't buy the governess that fancy of a hat, and he's right because the hat the hero is looking at is the prettiest in the shop.  It is not a governess hat.  And yet he goes back later and buys it for her but doesn't give it to her.  And it's my favorite part of the book so far.

So I found a place it fits and I'm going to put it in, and at the moment it's serving a very important job.  But even if I cut it again later, it's making me feel light and magical and airy while I write it, and I admit, I keep thinking of stuff Ellen will like when I write it, or things I hope she will.  Or Dan.  Or people in general.  Or Karen.

But we're definitely moving forward -- that is, we are as soon as I stop blogging and surfing the Crusie/Mayer blog and yelling at Chris because my computer won't load the disturbing "Whip It" video.

Which would be right now.  Or, right after I go get that coffee which is definitely done brewing now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

it's curtains for me

In November and December the thermometer dipped down, the winds whipped around our house, and the drafts began.  Our house has really effecient furances (somebody doubled the size of the house in the 70s and instead of redoing the ductwork in the original house just added a separate furnace) and decent insulation, but not so great windows.  Also, we're incredibly deficient in curtains.  Several rooms had none at all, and those that did tended to have really hideous blinds, many of them vertical. My first act on moving in two years ago was to take them all down.  Unfortunately, I didn't put anything back up, chosing instead to study each room and decide what would be best, then redo each room one by one.

Or so I said.  Mostly necessity has forced my hand in each room to gain curtains: first my daughter became afraid of shadows, and as she already had a pretty curtain rod, all it took was a trip to Target.  $60 later I had three purple paisley Simply Chic panels put up, and they've served well since.  Next came our bedroom -- what forced my hand there was my husband's first overnight shift at the hospital.  To effectively sleep during the day, he was going to need some light blocking curtains.  This time I had to buy a curtain rod as well, so $100 and a trip to JC Penney later, we had curtains in our bedroom.

Everything pretty much came to a standstill until this fall when those winds started whipping around.  The drafts started up, but we kept the theromstat down in an effort to save money.  So with the house set at 64, 66 on a really cold day, I sat in the family room with frozen fingers, the draft of the sliding door and three sets of badly installed windows whipping around me.  I was cold, but I was also cheap.  I didn't want blinds in the family room, I wanted rich, thick, room-darkening, insulating curtains -- and with that sliding door, it was going to be pricey.  Best I could manage was a really ugly panel and $150 minimum for curtain and hardware to cover the door -- alone.  And since I wanted the other windows to match, I was going to break $500 really fast.  All this and I wasn't getting the rich, pretty fabric I wanted.

I managed to get to and find some very nice chenille upholstery fabric on clearance: for less than $100 (with shipping!) I got nearly 20 yards of fabric, and with it a brainstorm.  You see, our family room is very cozy, but has no doors and opens into a long, long hallway leading to the toyroom, the downstars bathroom, and the basement.  It also opens into the original part of the house, which features an open dining and living area.  So part of my cozy family room is a hallway which in its full expanse well over 100 feet long.  Maybe even 150 feet.  Not so good with the feng shui.  My brainstorm was to put up two panels at the natural borders of the family room, closing it off.  It would make it homier and have a practical function as well: in the winter we could run the fireplace or a space heater and have a lot of heat in a small space.  But once the fabric box came (Over six feet long!  That impressed the UPS man.), I didn't exactly jump up and start sewing.  I didn't have any hardware, and I really suck at putting that stuff up.  I asked my FIL to do it, and my husband, and we all talked about it a lot, but it never happened. 

Then it became January at we got our December heating bill.

$300!  For just the natural gas!!!  Here I am, freezing my ass off, and I'm STILL paying $300!  Boy did that piss me off -- enough, in fact, to start me sewing, and get me to Lowes and get fires under my husband and FIL.  And now I have curtains. 

I can make the family room dark as night at noon, if I choose.  I have rich, gorgeous jaquard-print chenille curtains: gold on red for the windows and door, and cream on olive for the  hallway sections.  (Those are impressive, at nearly 8' in length.)  The curtains hang from ridiculously simple hoop-and-clips from Lowe's, on very lovely gold rods, from the same.  The family room is very cozy and elegant.  But most importantly -- it is WARM.

Because I also bought a small heater at Target for $40.  In less than five mintues this room, whose theromstat is set at 60, can be so toasty you're tempted to take off your socks.  Since the hall-blocking curtains went up, I've kept the house at 60 degrees or less and used this room as a warm-up place.  At this very moment I've moved my laptop in here.  Most of the cats are in here, my daughter has PBS going while she plays with her Playmobil, and we're at a very comfortable 70 degrees.  I'm even considering turning the sucker to low, because I'm almost hot.

I have no idea how much money I'm going to save, and the electric bill will probably go up a bit.  But I'm not cold anymore, and I have very pretty curtains.  And I made them myself, which in the middle of the project seemed like a damn stupid idea, but now that it's done, my frugal heart beams with pride at how fricking awesome they look.


Thursday, January 19, 2006


I have no idea how I got here, but I seem to have stumbled into a little pocket of zen, and I have to say, I hope it sticks around a bit.  It's the damndest thing -- life is whirling around at a frenetic pace all around me, there's stuff like insanity everywhere I look, my schedule is really busy, and yet I'm getting a lot done on a lot of fronts, I'm getting in a lot of reading, a lot of family time, we have clean clothes, and food in the fridge.

Seriously -- I spent all last week beating one scene into place, and now I'm on scene five (this is a revision thing, so there's a lot of insertion.  I haven't written four scenes in four days.) and moving steadily forward, but I'm only working in the mornings.  It's like I have extra time or something.  Like somehow time is bending for me into just the right shape, and I'm calmly, happily walking through it, getting done what needs to be done and occasionally bending over to smell some flowers at my feet.

There is a part of me that desperately wants to analyze and figure out how I've done this so I can bottle it and do it again, but then I remember the manna.  You know, the Bible is good for a lot of things, and that manna story is a good one.  When you get gifts from the gods, DO NOT try and sneak extra helpings.  Just be damn glad food is falling from the sky and enjoy it while it lasts.  So I'm enjoying my manna and reading a lot of Prachett.  I've started buying them, because it must be done.  I want Hogfather again soon (reading Soul Music just now) and then I"m going to want to see Granny and Nanny again.

Something is coming, though, and that's not a reference to The Christmas Invasion, Whovians.  I just have this sense.  April or May, (maybe March, but I try not to think about that, too close) something is coming.  I keep dreaming about it.  Last night I dreamt that I was in a color guard at the church where I was baptized and confirmed, and somehow this was all related to some online groups I'm on.  I was a "senior" and I was in charge of the program, and whenever someone dropped a ball I had to go pick it up. 

The coolest thing was there were all these flags that had to go up front before the service started: the Lutheran flag was there, and the American flag, but there was also a Human Rights flag and a transgender flag, and I carried the latter.  I remembered in the dream being really glad our group was so diverse that we had a transgender flag.    But then they were about to start the service and nobody had brought up the American flag, though everybody was standing and ready like it had already gone past, so I hurried back and picked it up and ran with it flapping all the way up.  Then I went back to find the rest of the ushers.

Except I kept crying because it was my last program, like I was about to graduate.  And after that I woke up, and it was like somebody whispered "something's coming."

You know, at this point aliens would actually be easier to take.  Because my gut keeps saying, "your whole life is going to change" and won't tell me why or how (actually, I think it's that I won't let me tell me why or how) and it's everything in me not to be a baby and say, "but I like my life!"

So I'm holding on to this pocket of zen and refusing steadfastly to think about April, excepting that we may be traveling in April and that will be fun.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

What is normal?

Eowyn broke her hand again the other day.  This would be my Eowyn action figure, picked up at Target a little over a year ago.  She sits on my writing altar, which you can find here.  I actually have a Buffy from "Once More With Feeling" now as well, as I have the coolest husband on the planet. 

But Eowyn broke her hand, and it's defying being put back on.  As I'm a symbol wonk, I'm trying not to read too much into this, but it's hard, especially as this week writing has been well beyond pulling teeth and into removing gall bladder sort of trauma.  Add to this the Trouble With Blair and I'm downright paranoid.

Blair is the alpha cat in our house.  We are insane and have five, four male.  This is no doubt part of our problem, and trust me, NOBODY is getting in now, but it's too late to turn back on the five who are here. But Blair is stressed: between moving two years ago, the disastrous Dog Experiment a year ago, and Sidney, the cat who came to dinner and never left, he was bad enough, but it was a woman who pushed him over the edge.  Cookie, a neighborhood cat who delights in tormenting our cats from our porch, the sliding glass door, and anywhere she can.

And now Blair is so stressed out and angry that he's got blood in his urine, and it burns and makes him crankier, so he pees wherever the hell he can.  Of course, to discover this we had to send him to the vet for two days and lock him alone in a very small cage with no litter box so he would pee through the grate and they could test it – I'm sure this did tons for his mental state.  When I picked him up today I felt like I was rescuing someone from Auschwitz, which is terribly unfair to our vet because she is wonderful, but Blair I think does not share this sentiment.

So I'm looking at getting two more Comfort Zones which is no small purchase, btw, but they really work.  We've already shelled out for some weird powdery stuff for his food which he of course has already refused.  (Let's see how he feels tomorrow morning after I've put up the food for the night and this is his only option.  Also good for the mental state, I'm sure.)  We're already giving up on administering the antibiotic twice daily and Dan is going back tomorrow to beg for shots, swearing he knows how to prep and administer them.  (He does, he's a pharmacist.)  We're trying to give him extra attention and keep the other cats from bugging him while not infringing on his manhood.

Why does this already feel like a losing battle?

Add to this a four year old who has launched into her most manic phase yet and what do you have?  If you said optimum conditions for getting through a slaggy spot in the writing process, you would have guessed incorrectly.  And yet through all this I prevailed and tonight I managed to rough out the new scene one to the WIP.  I sent it to my wonderful, fabulous critique partner so it even feels official.  Then I treated myself to reading one more scene of her WIP (it rocks, you should all drool) which turned into reading four because it is just that good. 

Of course, at 6:30 you could not have gotten me to believe by 9PM I'd be sitting here zen as hell, calmly swilling my lime mineral water straight from the liter bottle.  The Jameson's I had at 6:45 helped for awhile, but I think in the end it was the chaos that set me straight, weirdly enough. I mean, if it were ever actually "normal" here, I'm sure I wouldn't recognize it.  In fact, this is pretty par – several disasters at once, Voice of Doom always ready to broadcast the end of the world (which if you watch enough Buffy and Doctor Who doesn't impress you after about a season of each) – honestly, I think I'd be twitchier if it were quiet around here for a week.  Little moments of aberration are fine, but really, life is a royal mess by nature, so looking for constant zen is pretty much like asking to be dead.  The good stuff always falls in the cracks, so you've got to dig through all the weird stuff to get there.  And as we all know, it's the digging and the anticipating that is the real ride, not the getting to the stuff at the end.

Now if I can translate this to my fiction I might just be able to make a career out of my neurosis.  Now that's a crack I want to fall down into.  I think.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Love makes the world go round

This weekend I saw two movies, Brokeback Mountain and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Each is the darling of a polar end of the political spectrum, or so the media would have you believe.  Actually, I have convservative friends whom I know will probably see Brokeback and love it, and I know a lot of far lefties who will see the Narnia flick and adore it as well.  Which makes a lot of sense, as when I came out of TLTWATW this afternoon my first thought was that both those movies had the same core message: love one another.

I didn't recall that being the central message of the Lewis versions so explicitly, but they made a big deal of it in the film version.  And for all the jokes about gay cowboys and Ledger and what'shisface's protetations of how hard it was to be gay, the message of Brokeback Mountain is not that it's okay to be gay as much as it is that it's okay to be yourself and that you should take love where you find it and not let it pass you by.  So, love one another.

Only people so ferverently on message to their respective radicalism could see either movie and do anything but say, "Wow, that touched me."  Of course, Brokeback will make you bawl your head off while you say it, but still, it's very touching.  So is Narnia. 

It does make me sad that we live in a world that two dueling parties back two films that have such similar base messages, but we can't get behind each other and celebrate those similarities. 

Okay, time to go watch Doctor Who again.

God, but he's hot.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The POV of the Doctor

Warning: this entry has great gobs of spoilers for Doctor Who, though little of it is about plot and most if it is about character. Personally I'd say if you haven't watched it and plan to you should skip it. I wrote this up for my own purposes, but I liked how it turned out so I thought I'd post it in case there's somebody desperately trolling for Doctor Talk, which I sympathize with totally. Here it is.


To us, the Doctor is an alien.  To him he's not, though, he's just himself.  He's normal to him, he's himself.His normal is radically different from everybody else, though.  By most people's sense he'd be at the time of a linear hierarchy – but is he?  Does he think so?  I don't believe it.  I think there's a part of him that knows he's more aware, has more knowledge than most people, but I don't think he believes he's superior.  There's an egoism that must go with it, but that's not a flaw, that's part of omnipotence.  If you're going to have separate consciousness on your own and then also have that much knowledge, you have to be aware that you're "greater" than most.  But I think you'd also realize what a burden this is.

But to be the LAST of the Time Lords . . . . well.  And to be the one who killed your own people off to stop a threat to the universe at large?  And to not be entirely sure this was the best choice?  Then to find out that your solution didn't work?

So he's traveling.  He's always traveling, always on his own, sometimes with companions but with a sense of the greater unity of Time Lords, until now.  Now it's just him, completely alone.  Utterly.  And I bet he feels a sense of responsibility, like now he has to bear up all the work the Time Lords would have done as a race.  He's not just the last of the Time Lords, he's THE Time Lord, so he's sort of God as man, only knowing his job is impossible.  He's got to patrol the entire universe himself.  Maybe he wishes he'd died, too, but he couldn't and didn't, and now here he is, left bearing the guilt of surviving and the responsibility of those he had to kill.

Now, enter Rose. At first she's just another human to save, though she seems to intrigue him right off.  She's spunky.  She's smart.  She's assertive.  But still, human.  She can't possibly be that different from anybody else he's traveled with.  She can't be that significant.  Still, she doesn't run from danger, though she's not stupid.  She asks good questions.  She takes stuff in quickly.  She adjusts well.  Also, she keeps showing up.

She reminds him about humanity – also, I think, beyond humanity, which is just about her race, to simply about a love of life.  I think he may have lost some of that in the Time War, but Rose helps him regain some of it.  She reminds him about life.  And I think initially, maybe, attaching to her is his first step towards being able to love his own life again.

The bit where he talks about the turn of the earth, them clinging to the skin of the planet – I think that's his entire mental state.  He's just running.  Going.  He doesn’t have joy in it anymore, it's a job.  And he meets Rose and she's really interested and he's polite and appreciates her, but he's got walls up.  "I'm big.  I've got this weight.  You won't want to be with me, nobody would – it's too painful.  I don't like it.  Why would you?"

Except she's always there, always competent, always Rose.  She helps.  She grounds him.  She takes him to task.  She's a companion the minute she spots the London Eye as the transmitter.  But before that, she accepts him. 

She asks if he's alien, and he says, "Yep.  Is that all right?"  Quick exchange.  And yet!  Here he is, facing the first person to really measure up since the Time War, with someone who intrigues him, and first he's got to make sure his normal is okay.  And it is, which is great, but that moment.  I love that moment.

But he really has forgotten how to live life.  He can't care about Mickey's possible death because he's got to think about the life of "every stupid ape on this planet."  But it's only three eps until he's in the cabinet room at Downing Street afraid to save the world because it risks Rose, so that's why I think he attaches his love of life to "love of Rose."  He can't love himself, but he can love and protect her.

She spots that wheel in the first ep, and it clicks for him.  A companion!  A helper!  Not to be alone!  And then she doubles her worth by not just being clever and interesting, but being useful.  She saves his life, and not just here.  Over and over again, she's going to save his life, but it starts here. 

The whole of series one is the Doctor learning how to live again.  He comes to us having just killed his race to save everyone else, and he has guilt and fear and worry over that, but Rose saves him because she helps him see that all he has to do is live, to love his life, that he can't have the whole of time and space on his head, because it hurts.  He has to let it go. 

Everything he says to her at the end of "The Parting of the Ways" is what he needs to hear himself.  When Goddess Rose is standing there in her glory, unable to let go of the power but doomed to die because of it, she's become a mirror of him.  She/the TARDIS become what he has become and shows him he's going to destroy himself – not a physical death, but an emotional death.  The power's going to kill him.  Rather – the GUILT is going to kill him.  He's got to let it go.  And he does.  It's actually so perfect and fitting that he has to change here.  It'd be weird if he didn't.  Because now that chapter of his life is closed.  He's a new man.  Everything is different.  Rose should mourn him, because he'll never be that dark and vulnerable and lonely again.


I think when anyone is lonely what they're really pining for is themselves.  We are never alone until we've lost our sense of our own self.   The minute he opens the doors to the TARDIS in "The Christmas Invasion," right from, "Did you miss me?"  he's different.  He loves himself again.  He doesn't even know who he is, but he loves himself.  It's palpable.  Some of it is Tennant's portrayal, but a lot of it is that he's a different Doctor now – not because he changed, but because he found himself again. And now series two is going to be a whole new story.

We've already got a taste of what's to come, and I don't just mean the trailer at the end of TCI.  The legs of the new journey are in place.  I love the hand cutting off bit and the regeneration – it could symbolize so many things.  It could mean his companion – maybe Rose will be less essential to him now.  He still loves her, but now she's not vital to him.  If he had to lose Rose it wouldn't be the death of his race all over again.  It could mean himself – go ahead, cut off my hand, cut off my people, cut off my whole sense of self, but I'll just grow a new one. 

It also makes me wonder about series two, about his new character.  Will he be more invincible?  Definitely he's going to take more risk.  He's got a zest which is really fun.  But more clues: he doesn't give second chances.  He's ruthless in his judgment.  He destroys Harriet Jones with six words, and he doesn't regret it.  He's strong again, whole.  This makes me wonder what sort of enemies he's going to conjure now.


Friday, January 06, 2006

misty moment

Okay, when I was little, I had a stuffed Snoopy and a blue blanket. I had them when I was not so little as well -- they even came along with me to college. But eventually they made their way into storage, and for about ten years they've just rattled around in bins as I've moved here and there, just one of those mementos you can't throw away and yet have no immediate need for any longer. Last night my daughter was scared of bad dreams, unwilling to go asleep, and hitting on some brainstorm out of my subconscious I went into her closet where I'd fortuitously put the bin of stuffed animals from my childhood, and I brought out Snoopy and the blanket. I told her how they'd been my special nighttime friends when I was little and that they chased away bad dreams. Anna clung to them all night and declared they did keep the bad dreams away when she woke this morning. Now Snoopy and the blanket are downstairs, having an entirely new set of adventures, thirty years after they began. I have to say, this is the part of parenting I really really enjoy.

All hail the Doctor

Right -- so, my daughter has started going to preschool daily as of the first of the year.  This translates to two full hours of writing time every morning, and I was determined to be good.  I was, mostly -- Wednesday (first day back) I made notecards.  Yesterday I brainstormed.  Today I watched the last fifteen minutes of The Christmas Invasion repeatedly, freeze framing shamelessly.  (I adore .avi files.)

You know, that latter still was work, and so is this journal entry.  Seriously.  Because for part of it I listened to the audio commentary from the web (again) by the writer and producers (the brilliant Russell T was there), and doing that was writing work.  I'm not sure why yet, but all I know is that I stared at that horrible blank screen and blinking cursor, unable to start act two, so I watched the end of TCI again and felt like if I wrote this journal entry, then I'd be all set and able to write.

I think it's because that story is such DAMN GOOD STORY.  My poor friends -- come February when there's a US release, I'm going to be terrible.  I think I'm going to buy it for my dad for his birthday, which is in March.  But it is, it really really is.  And I just wasn't sure at all about Tennant -- I was so in love with Eccelston, but oh, Tennant defied logic and reason and was instantly even better. 

What is it about the Doctor?  Is it because he's so competent and yet so childlike?  I've never seen anybody be 900 years old and have that kind of energy and vitality and love of life.  I think that's why Tennant is so fabulous, because Eccleston was GREAT but so sad and down because he had to be, given what he had to do to Gallifrey, and he really loved life, but he seemed to love everybody's life but his own.  Until the end.  And now we have Tennant, who looks ready to dance his way across the screen for the rest of time.

But I think the biggest reason I love Tennant is because of the "Attack of the Graske."  I know Eccelston was big into this show being for the kids, and oh, he's my first Doctor so he will always always always be sacred, but after I watched the Graske ep which was so obviously geared for kids -- well, you could just tell Tennant would have been one of the little boys gleefully pressing the remote, glad to be the Doctor's companion for ten minutes.  And he both takes such care in the role and yet so clearly ADORES it, revels in it.  I hope he never leaves.  I hope he's on for twenty years.  I know he won't be, but oh, I adore him.  He's so fabulous.

Also, cute as hell.  That doesn't hurt at all.

Davies, though -- he's my main man.  He has officially gone on the list of People I Need To Hug Before I Die.  We're heading to England in the spring, and I'm trying to find the right argument for a day trip to Cardiff.  As I'm getting my husband hooked on Who as well, it may not be as hard a sell as I think.  I know I won't see Davies, but I just want to go stand near his aura for awhile.  I'm sure I'd embarass myself if I ran into him, because I'd probably just start crying.  But my God, he takes such CARE.  I've never seen anybody love story like him.  Yeah, I hear the critics who say he makes logic leaps.  Oh, probably.  But this man put a SWORD FIGHT in TCI.  Ohmygod I about died.  And he set the whole episode up to help eight year old boys adjust to a new Doctor, and made sure to put in references and little details.  And gets excited because the wardrobe people made Jackie and Rose's outfits clash, because that suits their personalities and their dynamic.  He loves the story, loves his characters, and loves his audience and takes care of them all.  Plus he's brilliantly intelligent and knows it but doesn't gloat.  God, I need to at least shake his hand.  And sob on it.

And now to work with me.  But look!  Three blogs in one week.  Go, me.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Rule, Britannia

It's been very British around our house lately.  Anna's favorite shows are Thomas the Train and Bob the Builder.  Dan's ordering the UK edition of Titanic on DVD and pining after Kylie Minogue.  In addition to writing about England in the early 1800s, I'm researching the British Royal Navy like mad, watching my front porch for the delivery of the Doctor Who tape from Canada of the Christmas Invasion, and being rather depressed that there isn't a third series of Spaced out just yet.  Also, we're planning a trip to Europe in April, and a full week of the three will be spent in good old Albion.

You know, I've always had a thing for Britain, and lately I've been trying to decide why.  These days it's easy to pine for Anywhere But Here, but more of that is the fallacy of Utopia than anything else. 

Though I think what gets me is that even the "simple" in Britain don't seem to fall into ideology and fanaticism en masse, and that's what we seem in for here.  I'm so weary of the US being one big magnetic polarity field, zealots on all sides, and nobody but nobody successfully holding up the middle.  I watch Spaced and think, I want a flat in that building, too.

I keep thinking of the book I just finished: To Rule the Waves, which is a history of the British Royal Navy which really becomes the history of Britain through its navy.  It really sobered me, making me realize how it doesn't seem to matter how long a lens we have on history or how pervasively we study ourselves, each civilization which rises to high power is doomed in the end by their own height and what is apparently an irresistible urge to look up instead of out, to protect the pinnacle rather than use the pinnacle to give back and realize that being on the top isn't being in charge but being the one who gives the most.

I don't think there's a civilization ideally suited to this charge, but I have to say, if I got to vote I'd give it back to Britain.  Actually, I'd really like it if Everybody or Nobody was "they key power," but we really don't appear to be advanced enough as a species for that sort of open end.  Chaos would ensue.

So I guess in the end I'll just be really glad for, region free DVD players, and friends who know where the good Brit TV is.  Also, for marrying a husband whose income supports trips to Europe.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Resolved: Rejoin the Rest of the World

Huh.  Last entry October?  Right, it's time to get a new blog strategy.

Though actually, I have to say I wasn't present for much from October until now, and it was kind of a nice vacation.  I can't say exactly where I was or what I was doing – obviously I can say that I was here in my house and that stuff did happen, but the part of my brain that blogs was checked out.  However, it's back now.  And as one of my goals for the year is "get used to exposure," blogging it will be, a lot more often, too.

And today I'm going to talk about my collages.  Since my brother helped me figure out Coppermine, I won't just tell you – I can show you.

These are my collages.  Well, okay, there are two collages sort of buried in there, here and here, and if I get my stuff together I've got another two to post in the gallery eventually – but the other stuff is detail work on the Governess story because the camera I used for that is only so-so, and I was dissatisfied with the detail work.  But I may have gone overboard on the detail photos.  A Touch of Steel is the finished story, and at the moment I have it out to readers and out for the Golden Heart contest.  The other one doesn't really have a name beyond "The Governess Story."  I've toyed with The Governess and the Sea or The Governess of the Sea, but really the only solid part right now is that it's about a governess.  And a sea captain.

I really love my collages.  I don't much care if other people hate them (though I love to hear that people love them) because they are so perfect for me.  And that's the best part, that I make these just for me.  I save pictures, scour hobby shops, Google image search until I can't find any more photos, then spend an afternoon with glue and tape and everything I've found.  I tend to take over the dining room when I do this.  The making of the Governess collage found my four year old was awake for a change (I tend to do these in the middle of the night), and she insisted on making her own collage, which actually turned out really well.  I should take a photo of it and post that as well.

I love collaging because that's where the magic happens.  Writing has its moments, but there's so much stress and angst there that I tend to be bonkers half the time while I do it, and if there are miracles I'm either so behind I don't have time to rejoice in them, or I'm so frazzled I don't even notice them happening.  Wait, there have been some miracles in the Governess draft, but it's hard to hold onto them because they're all mental and you can downplay them later.   But collaging?  That rocks, every time. 

I don't structure my collages consciously, though they're always very structured.  They just happen.  I start gluing and cutting and moving stuff around, and it just happens and when I'm finished, they're gorgeous (I think so anyway) and they're perfect and right.  Once I've made a collage I relax because I know it's a real book.

I have Jenny Cruise to thank for the collage habit, and believe me, I thank her pretty much after every one, because it's sort of like birthing a child – every time it blows your mind what you just did.  She has a great article or two on it, but for some reason her page is refusing to load properly for me just now, but really, you should poke around on her site anyway, so go play for yourself.

I have four collages in my office.  I only have one finished (all the way to the end, polished and in the most initial baby step stages of attempting to get it published), but I know I have three more books in me in the near future because there are three more collages.  I can tell you in depth what each picture means and may do that someday – but the part I love is that I don't sit down and get stressed about how it's going to happen, I just let it happen.

I really can't describe how it is that I do that, which is a shame, because that's the biggest miracle.  I get myself so tied in knots over the words, and the arcs, and if it starts going south I freak out and worry what it means.  I sweat over craft, worry about things I can't control, hyperventilate when I think about submitting to an agent – but even though I know there are more artistic things out there, I'd show ANYBODY my collage.  And when people don't understand them or know what to say, I tend to think, "Well, it's not for you anyway."  

This should be happening with more in my life.  Just let stuff fall where it will, view it all as the miracle it is, then show it proudly to everybody.  And if people don't get it, shrug and think, "It's not for them."

And the miracle at the moment is that I have the sort of life that when my daughter woke and came into my office, I just unplugged my headphones so she could listen as she plays with the Buffy and the Eowyn from my writing altar while I work.  It's good work if you can get it.