It occurs to me that I am living by weather at the moment. Is it going to get cold enough that I have to go down to the basement and turn on the space heater to keep the pipes from freezing? Will there be ice? Or god forbid, will the power go out? Still it’s gorgeous here. I went outside a couple of days ago when it was snowing and it was like magic. Plus we only got a couple of inches so it was a piece of cake to shovel. I mention all of this because one of the things I’m planning to make is a weather afghan; you crochet or knit one or two rows or a two-color block for every day of the year, coding them for the high and low temps. All I have to do is figure out where I put my worsted Brava, and I’m ready to go. In the meantime I’m still making hats and scarves like a mad woman. Two more hats and a scarf since last we spoke. I have no idea why I’m obsessing on hats and scarves; I don’t wear either. I think it might be the instant gratification, or as near to instant as doesn’t matter. That feeling of having finally accomplished something. Unfortunately, not a book.
What have you been up to lately?
The Washington Post did a book review recently that argued that Americans are doing happiness wrong (well, we have good reason) and that people in other countries know joy better than we do. And they recommend four books that will tell us how to do happy as well as the Japanese, British, Swedish and Koreans.
There is, for example, The Book of Ichigo Ichie, which tells us that “The moment is a jealous lover that demands we give it our all.” Oh, good, something else demanding something of me, just what I needed. Or there’s the British concept of coziness which, according to the article, is less elitist than hygge because it involves things like socks and baths. I don’t know when those became British, but I’m wearing socks right now–snowstorm outside–so I’m gonna take a flyer here and say that socks are international. (Mine say, “Fight Like a Girl,” so foot-warming AND heart-warming.). Then there’s The Little Book of Fika, which celebrates taking a moment to relax. So far, this is all stuff I’ve been doing, not realizing I was so damn internationally cosmopolitan, but then I got to The Power of Nunchi, and that was new. It’s the Korean practice (according to the book) of eye-assessing or, as the essay sums it up, “Pay attention.” Now there is something I should do more of. What it has to do with happiness, though, is beyond me.
I am not buying any of those books. That makes me happy. What made you happy this week?
(I typed that damn headline because it’s late and I just needed something and now I have “There’s a kind of hush . . . all over the world . . . tonight” stuck in my head, and it hasn’t been in there in decades. Damn Herman’s Hermits. And I know all the words, which is not hard because there are only about twelve. If you don’t count the “la la la”s. Which I don’t because the la-la-las make me want to kill somebody. I AM NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS EARWORM.
Today is Thesaurus Day.
A thesaurus is a “a storehouse, repository, or treasury” (see Dictionary.com) or more specifically a dictionary of synonyms and antonyms. For people like us, it’s word porn. There is, of course, an online thesaurus at Thesaurus.com that includes synonyms for “thesaurus” like “lexicon” and “onomasticon” and “dictionary of words,” all of which lead to other terms . . . it’s the TV Tropes of words.
Happy (Jubilant) Thesaurus (Onomasticon) Day (Diurnal Course)!
. BookBub sent me a “Books recommended by Romance Authors” e-mail and I thought it was time I tried new romances so I bit. And then I spit a lot of it out. I know I’m RIDICULOUSLY picky about what I read, but when I can’t get through the entire book because I’m so annoyed, I start to wonder if maybe I’m not being ridiculous, I’m being insane. People really liked these books, some of them people I know and respect. WTF? Then I read a good one, One of Us Is Lying, and I felt better.
I also read The Princess Diarist which left me feeling vaguely depressed with flashbacks to my own nineteen-year-old romance bad choice (Reader, I married him); then I read the reviews/commentary on it and felt even more depressed. The book is good, the writing is strong, dear god I’m so glad it’s not 1975 any more.
My newest book buy is Cleaning Sucks which is actually a journal. I think. I haven’t opened it yet.
What did you read this week?
. I’m still crocheting like a madwoman, but now I’m chuffed about Lee’s plan for a daily art something in February: “I’m organizing DailyFeb2020, and thinking about what to do for a month is making me happy, and I hope you’ll join me!” (Click the link to see Lee’s post.) I’m pretty sure I’m going to get back to drawing. Very low bar, as Lee suggests, but at least some structure if I have to something every day. It’s been so long, I’ll be awful, but I might get some of my old skill back (that BS in Art Education was a looooong time ago).
But mostly it’s crochet while I watch my latest British TV discovery, the Agatha Raisin mysteries. (Tried the books, couldn’t do it, possibly because I watched “The Quiche of Death” first, in which Agatha is an annoyingly forthright and very competent middle-aged bottle blonde with no boundaries, only to find that in the book she’s frumpy and dull-haired. Just wasn’t the same.). Also, the Brokenwood Mysteries are back for Series Six although they’re being parceled out a week at a time which is just annoying. But thanks to the bounty of streaming TV, I’ve made five hats and four scarves and finished my Forest of Dean.
So what are you working on? Big plans for a new year of Make?
I think change is good. Reinvention is good. Especially when you don’t have any other choice.
So I’m looking at my writing and thinking, “I’ve done that.” I’m proud of what I’ve done (most of it), but I did that. I don’t want to be an imitation of what I used to be. It’s been ten years since I’ve published, people have forgotten what I used to be. I’m a new author again.
So I’ve been thinking about where I want to go next, aside from the half dozen books I already have started. Thinking about trying something new, maybe inspired by the stories I’ve loved, like Pushing Daisies. Except I just watched a series I swear was modeled on Pushing Daisies and all I could think was “This is just like Pushing Daisies except not as a good.” So I think trying to write magic realism would be a bad idea for me, a kind of “This is just like Water for Chocolate except bad.” And anyway, I already tried that in Bet Me and my editor made me tone down the magic realism so I’m probably lousy at it.
Plus there’s the whole imposter syndrome I’m already dealing with, the “I must really suck at this” working on me while I try to figure out what’s wrong with Nita. I like that book. There are parts of it I adore, parts that make me think I’m a genius. And there aren’t any parts that make me think I’m awful. And yet many people in NYC said, “Nope.” Well, two agents said, “This needs work” and an editor said, “Nope.” It’s quelling, that’s what it is.
So I’m thinking once I get Nita out the door which must be soon because my god I can’t stand this any more, I need to start thinking outside the box. Assuming I have a box. Why would I want a box? Just so I have something to think outside of? A jar in Tennessee I can knock over? Forget the box. I don’t need no stinkin’ box.
I’ll think of something.
I’ve had soft rock in my head for the past two weeks, Stephen Bishop’s “On and On,” to be precise. Generally, earworms drive me nuts, but I’m getting into this one. It’s good for dancing through the house, and even though it’s a little bit sad, it’s not tragic. There’s a lot to be said for a good earworm. I told Krissie and she said she’s got “Baby Elephant Walk” stuck in her head. So I’m happy I don’t have that.
What made you happy this week?
Today is Milk Day.
Which means it’s also hot chocolate day, and chocolate pudding day, and milkshake day, and cream gravy day, and . . . the list is endless. Milk: it does a recipe good.
Looking back over my Kindle list for the past couple of weeks, it’s been all crochet and murder. I must branch out. Probably into cooking and art theft; I do love a good heist.
What did you read in this fine new year?
ETA: I just read a really good new book: One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus. Alternating first person PoVs, solid characterization, and a nice twisty plot.
This week, I’m making hats. Because hats are fast and I need immediate gratification. I don’t think immediate gratification gets enough credit, although as Carrie Fisher once said, sometimes “immediate gratification takes too long.” This week, the hats are doing it for me, five at last count, three from a pattern I lost my grip on and two from a scarf pattern that I jury-rigged to become a hat pattern. I’m finishing up a shawl, too. You know what I’m not working on? Anything I’m SUPPOSED to be working on. Still, hats.
So what did you work on this oh-hell-the-holidays-are-over-got-to-get-back-to-work week?