The NYT ran an article on how people are feeling guilty about not using the shelter-in-place time to do constructive things, and then Kate talked about the same thing, and I realized that I, too, have been feeling guilty about accomplishing nothing. Then I realized that of all the dumb things I’ve learned about myself during this virus, the dumbest is that I always set my expectations so high that they can’t be achieved. Here’s a good example: I’m in the middle of a life-altering, world-altering pandemic in which nothing is as it was and with clear knowledge that I know nothing of what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next day, next year, and I’m kicking myself and feeling worthless because I didn’t scrub my lawn furniture.
Okay, that’s not actually true. I scrubbed two cushions, one for under my butt and the other for behind my back. I did the minimum so I can sit out in the sun and watch the dogs rediscover the side yard every day. I have another eleven cushions to scrub, not counting the ones on the loungers, and I’ve only had two weeks of this to do it, which means if I’d scrubbed one a day I could have done the loungers by now . . .
I think it’s important to set the bar low. Lani used to say, “A low bar benefits everybody” and never was that more true than now. It’s time to embrace the two-cushion goal. Did I get out of bed today? Yes, eventually. SCORE! While we’re being excellent to each other, let’s be excellent to ourselves.
What made you happy this week (especially now that the bar is on the floor)?
Well, this is turning into a hell of a spring.
I’m okay with isolation, especially since nature is waking up and smelling the forsythia, but the news is kneecapping me, all the “this is going to get much, much worse” stuff from American media that is undoubtedly true and necessary to get people like me to put on a face mask. My house is dragging me down; it’s time to throw out everything, I’m thinking, well okay, not everything, you know, just a lot of it. I’m out of bok choy and celery. And then Monday, my mother died.
Today is Tangible Karma Day, which is specifically about recycling, but more in general about doing unto others. What goes around comes around. Pay it forward. What you put into the universe comes back to you. As you sow . . . you get the idea.
I have a sign in my kitchen:
That helps keep me honest. I think we’re pretty good here on Argh, such nice people, but if there was ever a time to polish up our karma situation, it’s now. Let’s be excellent to each other.
So I’ve got a better grip on the Lily story, although that’s not difficult since I had no grip at all before this. I still have no idea why she’s remembering past lives, what Fin has to do with any of it, the name of the diner, what Nadia’s role is, or . . . well, anything.
So let’s go with expectation. What are you expecting to happen next? Or with want. What do you hope happens next? Or with need. What makes no sense to you now? Or you know, anything about the story, especially if you have any ideas about what the hell is going on and what the next move should be. My big want: Lily’s kind of a wounded bird in everything I’ve written so far. I need to steel up her backbone, get that sass working. But she can’t be like Vanessa, who is cool and in charge and brilliant. She has to be Lily strong. Must cogitate.
What do you think?
I’ve been re-reading Rex Stout as a comfort read–he wrote his last book at 88 and it was good, so that helps, too–but I’m gearing up to read about Vikings, starting with a basic children’s book which is supposed to arrive Saturday. Maybe the next scene will be Viking-centric. (I have no idea what the next scene will be.). The book has pictures. That’s about where I am right now.
Where are you with your reading?
I know it’s April Fool’s Day, but I think Fate just pulled the ultimate trick on all of us with the virus, so I’m ignoring that. It is the first day of April, so YAY SPRING. Also I just found out there’s something called Viking knitting which does not require knitting needles, so I will obviously be looking into that. Also something called nailbinding which sounds brutal and Nordic. Lucet I already knew about, but still. Evidently there was a lot of crafting between bouts of pillaging. And I may doodle some manuscript illuminations on a specials menu, just to see how that goes.
And in other news, because I’m now obsessing on visuals, I went looking for retro diner fonts that could be used both on as the font for the diner (signs and menu heads) and as a title font, and found this list:
And then lost an hour playing with fonts, which is one of my favorite things to do. (See bottom of post for some possibilities.)
Now I have to find a name for the diner. Something that sounds like a diner name but has some kind of meaning which is going to be hard because I have no idea what this story is really about. I just want the sign and the font for the visuals. And because I love playing with fonts, okay? It’s still work if I enjoy it.
So what are you working on now?
When I wrote with Bob, he used to make me walk the terrain. We’d go to wherever the book was set and talk the story through while we walked around. The one I remember best was in the Carolinas, a big white house on a river, because I was saying things like, “Okay the gazebo for the wedding is over here, and there’ll be furniture on the front porch, maybe a swing, for that scene when the bridge goes in . . .” and Bob was saying things like “The bad guys will dock here and the scuba divers will attack the wedding from here . . .” (No, there was no scuba attack; Bob had a learning curve in writing romantic comedy, aka, nobody we like dies.). I dutifully tramped around after him through the Southern low country for Agnes and we spent one memorable October evening at an amusement park in Pennsylvania where people had chain saws for Wild Ride, but I finally had to admit that it was all worth it because he was right: walking the terrain helps a lot. (This may be why I do so many scenes in diners. I can sit the terrain.)
My version of walking the terrain is collage. Continue reading
NOTE: The discovery draft in the middle of this post has been revised as the comments came in. Therefore some of the comments won’t make sense any more because I’ve changed the part they commented on. All of the comments made sense in the beginning.
A word about discovery drafts:
A discovery draft is just getting words down on paper. In my case, it’s usually to see what the Girls are up to, so my first discovery drafts are dreadful, rambling things. Hey, you want to see how the sausage is made, you’re gonna see some ugly stuff. In this case, I tried to get into this story all weekend, and it just wasn’t there. The stuff that really caught me? The manuscript illustration, the diner, and Cheryl. I needed a best friend, or at least a friend for Lily, and of course, the love interest who could no longer be named later. Finally this morning, I googled for Norse names again and found one that seemed like it might work (might not), and then because I was dying to, I googled for “manuscript illumination dragon.” And I ended up with the stuff below. Missing is any kind of decent description (I suck at description) of people or place, and any sense of change. That’ll come as I know more, although I already know Lily is thin and sharp and redheaded and nervous, and Fin is big (Viking) and blunt and blond and calm. And none of that is on the page. Discovery draft. First step in the process. Oh, and this is boring. That’s okay, too. If I ever get to a rewrite, it’ll perk up. Continue reading
. It seems a little whack-job-Pollyanna to be burbling about happiness in the middle of a plague that’s killing thousands. I can do the right-now-in-this-moment-I-am-happy bit and still do, but underneath it all is that pervasive dread of what’s coming next, a future which all experts assure us is going to be worse. And then it will get better. And then worse again. And then better. And two years from now, we’ll all be fine again. Except for the economy. And . . .
Okay, first of all, turn off the fucking news. Continue reading
March has been Peanut Month.
My experiences with peanuts have been:
Tin Roof Sundaes
Jif Peanut Butter
and the ever popular “just throw some peanuts in your mouth” approach.
I kind of want a Tin Roof now.