Writing and Dreams

I rarely have dreams that make sense. Nor do I find them terribly interesting to talk about. However this one is worth the light of day:

I dreamt was talking to dear friends of my mother’s whom I recently have been thinking I should get back in touch with. I had been writing when they showed up (in the dream). When one of them asked me where I had moved to, I couldn’t remember. Was in Pennsylvania? Maryland? North Carolina?? I just couldn’t say.

Finally when I remembered where I had moved (none of the above states), my mother’s friend said, “I look forward to reading your book.”

“Why?”

“Because if writing it makes you forget where you live, it must be worth reading.”

Maybe it’s my subconscious trying to comfort me. But in this climate (publishing, political, cultural, physical) with our shithole president, I’ll take comfort where I can find it.

Where do you take comfort?

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January Notes

Well, it’s four degrees below negative oh-shit! in my neck of the woods. The morning light is harsh gold, and the trees’ shadows are blue, or is it violet gray, on the snow. I had to leave the water in the kitchen sink running a bit because the pipes showed signs of freezing.

Yesterday my beloved interrupted an insight I had about my manuscript to tell me about tire pressure in his truck. There are so few people in the world who give a good goddamn about a person’s writing process. I had sent my revised chapter to a friend. She gave me a bunch of feedback. I freaked out because I wasn’t ready, perhaps, to get feedback.

I calmed down and realized she was mostly right, and did some work. Revised the fucking chapter. Again. Last night I dreamed a writer told me that it took him 10 years to write a memoir. I burst out laughing and said, “Thank god, I’m on year eight, so I might be done soon.”

Let’s not think about why I might need a dream to support me. (The Spouse is generally a supportive human being, but he has his lapses, as do we all.)

I grow tired being surrounded by other people’s books. But I try to channel my angst into writing my own. Jealousy is stupid and gets a person nowhere. The good thing about this weather is that I do not want to leave the house. I do not want to leave the couch with the blankets. And neither does the dog. She is snoozing, and I am battling my way to the page.

Are you writing?

Once more without feeling

Scientists crack me up. In person, they often (like any of the rest of us mere mortals) have many thoughts and feelings, and especially feelings backed up by thoughts. But in their papers (which I edit day in and day out in order to keep Big Sophs in kibble), they have to be so objective and so thorough that it can be painful to read.

Not today, people. Today’s author has a way with words.

Furthermore, the multidigit precision of [blargh] is not only useless but delusional because it suggests accuracy where none exists.

Now that’s how I’m used to scientists talking. [Ed. Note: Indy Clause is the daughter of a scientist. She has spent forty-mumble years doing involuntary field work on this topic.]

What have you done involuntary field work on?

The Ordinary

I’m not a big fan of holidays. There are many reasons for this. I used to work in retail; my parents died and were sick, respectively, relatively early, so holidays were painful and hard; and I hate to be told how to feel.

I am not pagan, but I love the celebrating the solstices and the equinoxes. I observe storms, winds, and the historic cold happening in my neck of the woods (and across much of the country). The drama of an ordinary sunset comforts me, as do mountains and rivers and even the shadow of trees on the snow.

Today I greeted the morning with relief. I can get up and do some work. I can celebrate wildlife tracks across my snowy backyard. I don’t have to feel one way or another. And what about my poor spouse, robbed of any joy in his life? Well here’s how the conversation went.

Me: Hey, I looked at some stuff online to do for New Years’ Eve, but it’s mostly dancing. You hate dancing.

Him: True.

Me: There are no good concerts. Anything in the area involves dancing.

Him: Oh.

Me: And the restaurants are stupid expensive and will be full of people. You hate parties.

Him: True.

Me: There are fireworks in [nearby town redacted], but it’s going to be 9 below.

Him: [Look of despair] But we need to eat.

Me: Let’s just go to [our local go-to restaurant]. You won’t miss the whole New Years’ lalala?

Him: Hell no. I hate that shit.

And so we had burgers (with local grass-fed beef) and fries and drinks (me) and dessert (him). It was an ordinary dinner that we’ve had at our ordinary restaurant before.

Maybe this is middle age. I used to go dancing on New Years Eve with my best friend at whatever gay bar was near where we lived at the time. That was also super fun. But I married a man who hates to dance and she married a woman whose birthday is on the 30th. I can’t exactly be like, “Hey, can I borrow your wife and go dancing?” anymore. At least not on New Years.

Holidays: are you for or against?

Things to Be Glad About

I did not have to edit Milo Yiannopoulous’ book.

Someone went to the courts and found the editorial comments on the book.

She published them on twitter.

Sarah.Mei.Twitter

I laughed until I cried although I’m dealing with a stupid, minorly upsetting thing that has nothing to do with this blog or anything of general interest, but let’s just say I was not in a laughing mood earlier.

Sarah Mei, I love you.

Sincerely,

Indy Clause

Ice Highways

I am a person of few hobbies, but many obsessions. The latter usually involve reading books about various topics. One of the best compliments I got from a fellow bookseller was when he poked his head into the breakroom, asked what I was reading (which is the only acceptable thing to say to a bookseller on break other than, “the bookstore is on fire, take the books from your hold shelf and run”), and said, “I can never guess what you’re going to be reading.”

I’m still stuck on winter and the Arctic when it comes to my reading (a recurring obsession, see also Siberia and Antarctica). My most recent book-devouring rampage has taken me to Eowyn Ivey’s To the Bright Edge of the World. I love it thus far, and I’m a little more than halfway through. It is 1880-something, and we have an artist’s daughter, a naturalist who loves birds and is newly married. We have her husband, a man who leaves his happy marriage unhappily to explore the fictional Wolverine River in Alaska. We have letters, journals, and a bit of the modern day. The characters are good, the writing is excellent, the mythology* works, and I’m in love.

[*I use the word mythology guardedly. One character questions a First Peoples group for believing that women were once geese. Another retorts, “So women being made from a rib makes more sense?”]

Reading about 19th-century adventurers and woodsy types makes me think about my own little travelers journal. My little piece of leather with elastics that hold notebooks and folders is durable enough for my daily travels, though it would not stand up to Alaskan exploration (for one thing, the explorers probably would have tried to eat it in the early spring). I love books that bring me back to journaling. Ivey’s characters are so alive to their surroundings that it makes me alive to my surroundings. They write and think. I write and think.

The Alaskan explorers travel up the ice of the Wolverine River because it is the only clear(ish) path through the wilderness. When the leaves are gone, I can see the local river from my desk. It used to sparkle in the afternoon sunlight, but now that there is snow on the ground and it too is freezing up, it is harder to see.

I did not have to travel home along the ice highway (among other things, northerners know how to plow). But the asphalt highways weren’t simple either. Traveling for Christmas is hard on my psyche. It’s hard on anyone’s psyche. Perfectly well-adjusted people (if they exist) begin to feel mentally ill. Those of us with minor mental illnesses feel more ill. Etc.

But I am glad to be sitting at my desk, writing in sight of the river I only have to travel in my mind. I’m glad for the obsessions (books, stationery, and now, damn you Economical Penster, fountain pens) that bring me back to the page, and now that you’re here, make me feel less alone.

Be Serious

Between Christmas and triplets and a passel of dogs I managed to find an hour alone (no, I don’t need to go to Target. No, please, it’s okay; I’ll be fine on my own) to do some writing. But I was too tired to write anything with any form. So I journaled. I found myself writing some stupid sentence about being serious about my writing. Whatever that means.

People tell you that their resolution is to take their writing more seriously. But I’ve been taking my writing seriously since I was a wee poet trying to write in coffeeshops. I knew this was what I needed to do.

But maybe for me—overliteral, overliterary—taking my writing seriously means to not succumb to self-doubt. Submit to that fucking contest even though I haven’t been writing poetry lately and some of those poems are older than the triplet nephews. Ignore the self-defeating, no one fucking cares voice in my head.

I have always taken writing seriously. I have often taken publishing seriously. But how many more times have I rolled my eyes at submissions and thought, “Nah, not today. Stupid fucking poetry.” I am neither above submissions or below (not able to do it). My friends have first, second, and third books.

Get the fuck off the Internet, and if you can’t write today, than submit a fucking poem/essay/story already (or after the holidays, whatevs).

What do you take seriously?