Beginning 2021

Kindly imagine me in a small bubble. To the right, there is a window out of which I can see trees. One floor down is a birdfeeder that the birds are persistantly ignoring (I don’t think I’ve seen anything in at least a month, although I’ve heard crows), but that the squirrels are excited about.

All the squirrels around here are black, statistically speaking (I think I see a grey or a red one maybe once or twice a year). It is something I am very used to, and I am always kind of delighted when visitors call them ninja squirrels or goth squirrels.

It’s kind of quiet in this bubble. And while I recognize that there is currently a lot going on and some of it I need to deal with and some of it I just need to keep up with, it is a good place to be able to stop and breathe for a moment.

Edging out of 2020

It doesn’t feel like I’m a quarter of the way through December of 2020. Honestly, it feels like…

Well. The light of my life reminded me today that “I can haz cheezburger?” is thirteen years old, and I said something very rude. I have niephlets younger than that meme. I feel old. I’m not allowed to feel old when I’m comparing relatives with whom I’ve had an actual conversation to memes.

So that’s what it feels like, mostly. A kind of hectic rush that leaves me wondering how on earth I didn’t get more done.

Still, there’s a small vacation coming up, and words are happening, and the cat spent this morning moving onto my slippers and purring smugly. Things aren’t so bad, I just need to clear time to appreciate them a little better.

In which both change and the lack thereof are unwanted

With regards to unwanted change: the kitchen sink broke, the dishwasher broke, someone is coming into the house to fix the former, and the default WordPress posting interface has changed. I have no idea exactly how much these things will cost (well, the WP change is free, but the others are guaranteed to not be so).

With regards to unwanted stasis: I’m going to be spending most of the next five months in the house, as it’s not as if I’m going to be visiting establishments (or people) any more than an absolute bare minimum, and the weather is going to make it a lot more difficult to convince myself to go out for walks to nowhere. I am gloomily worrying about cabin fever (which admittedly also involves mental notes to myself to rewatch The Shining and check out #Alive, so not all terrible).

Oh well. Five more weeks and the days start getting longer again, so there’s that. And I have a lot of podcasts and books to get through.

Quiet night

This is the first Hallowe’en in thirteen years I haven’t carved a jack o’lantern. (I realize that I could, but it seems a little pointless; while holiday decorations are fine for inside, I’ve always thought of jack o’lanterns as something you do to set outside so that people know they can come to your house to trick-or-treat. That was definitely not happening this year.)

It’s mostly a quiet poke-at-words-and-watch-TV sort of night, and it’s not bad. But I hope next year is a more traditional Hallowe’en.

Slogging onwards

As opposed to this time last month, I am not exactly catching up on my reading. Focussing on written words has been feeling a lot more demanding lately. I have been able to do a couple of critiques, which is good, but when it comes to reading for personal interest…

I finished a magazine article last week. It was a photo essay with very minimal text; slightly less than a page’s worth. Aside from that, I don’t think I’ve picked up anything to read since last Monday, when I reached the end of a book that I wasn’t really internalizing.

Eh. This too will pass, I suppose.

On the plus side, the cats are extremely cuddly (and even softer than usual since an entire spare cat was brushed out of them), spring is approaching, and it’s raining. I’m looking into a couple of things that should help, as well.

Progressing, by words

I am finding that I have been picking up a lot of podcasts lately. I’ve been somewhat interested in them for a while – I started listening to The Bright Sessions in late 2018, and progressed to The Magnus Archives – but lately I have just dived in. I’m listening to Unwell and Old Gods of Appalachia, I’m going to try Hitchhiker Horror and The Far Meridian, and the non-fiction This Podcast Will Kill You is weirdly relaxing. (There are a few other on my radar, but they’re not quite at the top of my to-listen pile. It is a growing pile.)

(I think it might be because I am not getting out a lot, so I am a bit restless, and they are easy to listen to while I am moving around the house. Plus they require a fairly constant minimal level of attention, which helps keep my mind from wandering. And unlike reading, they just pour into my ears and I don’t need to focus enough to read. Despite the fact that it helps to have something to hold my attention, I’ve been having trouble making myself focus lately, and these help.)

Aside from that, I have been deeply resenting the return of the snow (we were up to 20’C before it started snowing again!), and trying to make sure I keep moving. It mostly seems to be working, I suppose.

Dynamic

Sometimes I take minutes. My raw notes are inevitably a bit unpolished, but they’re pretty fast. And I clean them up before I send out the draft for people’s comments, because “a bit unpolished” includes my editorializing about some situations. (I write swears. Not that anyone else swears. Just sometimes things are stressful.)

In recent minutes, I referred to the current situation as “extremely dynamic” and that’s about the politest way I can put it.

I’m still submitting. I’m writing a little. I’m having real trouble revising my own stuff, though, so that’s going to be something I’m going to be trying to focus on next month. Aside from writing, I suspect I’m dealing about the same way many other people are, and a lot of them are being more eloquent about it, so moving on.

I am catching up on my reading, though.

 

Pause for reflection

Huh. I just noticed how close we were to the ides of March.

Like pretty much everyone, I suppose, the covid-19 news is a bit on my mind, and I’m trying to make sure I stay up-to-date on all the usual daily stuff despite distractions. It’s not so much that I’m missing out on things – the things that I’d want to go out to do are all getting cancelled – it’s that I find myself at slightly loose ends for what to do instead.

I did manage to get my Hugo nominations in before the deadline, though, and am looking forward to seeing the final ballot.

Related to that, the only work I published last year got a mention in Locus! Rich Horton said that it was his favourite story published in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet that year in his short-fiction-in-print review. I am really pleased by that.

29 days and not enough time

…well that was a month.

A couple of days ago, I think I figured out why I never see any of my own work as “dark”. To me, something is dark if it develops in a chilling and unexpected, or a disturbing and surprising, way.

My own work usually isn’t unexpected or surprising to me. Therefore, it doesn’t register as dark. The implied body horror, the deaths, the strange alterations of self, the loss – that’s not dark, that’s what’s expected. (Not that these things inherently make a work dark, but they can, and they’re examples of what I’ve seen people point to.)

And yes, I have the same issue with a lot of horror – there’s very little of it that I parse as “dark”, simply because it’s horror, and that’s what I came for. It can be gruesome, chilling, heartwrenching, startling, dour, or dire – but because I’m going in expecting and hoping for that, it isn’t usually unexpected or surprising.

Aside from that, there’s been a lot going on, but a lot of it’s also been fairly personal and is in progress, so I’m going to settle for saying that I think things are improving.

Failing, better.

So a thing that’s been on my mind a bit lately; I wrote a very small game, and it’s not very good.

I’m figuring out how to be okay with this. It’s not as hard as I expected it to be (the coming to terms, I mean, not the writing).

I don’t know how to fix it, exactly – I have fetched up hard against the taste gap, and knowing it’s not as good as I want doesn’t mean I can tell how to make it as good as I want. And I’m not sure I have the time to learn how to fix it. I mean, I could read up and study and analyze and fix it (or make a new one that was better), but I only have so much time to spend on making things , and ultimately, there are things I want to do more than I want to figure out how to make the game better.

(This feels like a very old-person post, in some ways. The finite amount of time.)

And it was a fun game to make, too. So I guess I’ll give it another pass to polish it, and call it good. It’s useful to know that I can still just do something to play around, and enjoy that.