First day of the year
These are the books I bought myself for Christmas, and I'm having a hard time not reading all of them at once:
- Paul Park, The Tourmaline
- Eileen Gunn, Stable Strategies and Other Stories
- Jane Yolen, Once Upon A Time (she said)
- James Tiptree, Jr, Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
- Susan Palwick, The Fate of Mice
- Justine Larbalestier, Daughters of Earth
- Ursula Le Guin, The Wave in the Mind
Books by writers about writing—I can't get enough of them. And I have to own them, so that when I'm prowling around at 2 a.m. feeling like a complete freak of nature I can take one off the shelf and reassure myself that, well, at least I'm not the only freak of nature. These books are my company when I'm up to my ears in revisions and feeling marooned inside a mess of a world of my own creating. And I've got two, possibly three, new ones (I'm guessing Justine's book will provide this sort of company too, perhaps less directly than Le Guin's and the bits-about-writing in Jane's anthology, which is a treasure-chest of poems, stories and articles)—a gorgeous great trough of stuff, and I get to be the pig!
What prompted me to start this post was reading a poem in The Wave in the Mind called 'The Writer On, and At, Her Work', which is a wonderful, extended meditation that I feel like having tattooed on me, particularly as the essay before it is all about writing as bodily knowledge. 'Her work', she says at one point:
is with letters,And then there is this part where she reworks that Frost poem in a way that, were I a punching-the-air type of person...
with secret letters.
Letters that were not written
she must write them
over, and over, and over.
I came to a placeAnd this is how it finishes, after having talked a lot about waking up in the morning and starting to have ideas and put words together:
I couldn't see well in the darkness,
where the road turned
and divided, it seemed like,
going different ways.
I was lost.
I didn't know which way.
it looked like one roadsign said To Town
and the other didn't say anything.
So I took the way that didn't say.
'I don't care,' I said,
'I don't care if nobody ever reads it!
I'm going this way.'
And I found myself
in the dark forest, in silence.
You maybe have to find yourself,
in the dark forest.
Anyhow, I did then. And still now,
The Writer On Her Work:*snort, wallow*
I see her, too, I see her
lying on it.
lying, in the morning early,
Trying to convince herself
that it's a bed or roses,
a bed of laurels,
or an innerspring mattress,
or anyhow a futon.
But she keeps twitching.
There's a lump, she says.
like a rock—like a lentil—
I can't sleep.
the size of a split pea
that I haven't written.
That I haven't written right.
I can't sleep.
She gets up
and writes it.
is never done.
Starting off the year wonderfully, I had an email from my editor this morning subject-lined 'Tender Morsels—cooked to perfection' which started off, 'Well, you can sweep off home now on your fine mare; your work here is done.' And I felt that corner of my brain that, although I was just relieved to have got the revisions done and away, has been all curled up, hiding under the bed waiting for some kind of storm to break, begin to relax, and crawl out. Obviously part of me is very metaphor-starved, judging by this post so far...
I've been working, just a tiny bit, in between some serious loafing. I've been researching the four short stories and the short book I have to get written before May. And a couple of mornings ago, when I woke up and found a lentil in the bed—I did lie uncomfortably on it, pretending to sleep, for two hours first—I got up and wrote 8 pages of one of them.
Happy New Year, everyone. Health, wealth, happy reading and happy writing to you all. Oh, and peace on earth would be nice, too.