I finished draft 4 of the novel on Monday. I think it’s draft 4, it might be draft 3.5. I immediately found about 8 things that need changing but since that draft is now safely in the hands of three trustworthy beta readers (if they’ve already beta’d it are they gamma readers now?) so I am trying to let it go. I made notes, but I put them aside to work on and I am trying to distract myself with other things.

It is not going so well. But it’s only been a couple days so I should probably chill out about it.

I’m working on the tarot court cards. I have rough sketches for the pages and yesterday I worked on the knights a bit. Here is a sneak preview of the Knight of Wands for those of you who did not already see it via Twitter:

The large stack of paper the sketchbook is sitting on is the aforementioned draft 4-or-possibly-3.5. Happily the boy has taken it away today so it’s no longer taunting me from the coffee table. Am pleased with the knight sketch, need to do at least another one today and hopefully will have sketches for all of them by the weekend. Still not sure what to do with the queens or kings, but will worry about that later.

Other things I am doing to keep myself from over-thinking the novel include reading other novels. I finally finished Palimpsest yesterday and sadly didn’t like it as much as I’d wanted to. It’s gorgeously written, of course, but I didn’t connect with it at all. It hit wrong notes for me, or wasn’t my cup of tea or some other musical or beverage-based metaphor. Everyone else I know seems to love it, so it may just be me and my peculiar tastes.

I’ve pulled out a lot of my creativity books again, to continue ongoing self-analysis of my often tumultuous creative process. And I have more novels in the to-read pile for when I get sick of my own brain.

There is tea and sunshine, and I should probably paint something but not while I’m wearing this shirt.

Also, I have vague aspirations of updating this blog every day in May. Suggestions for content or photos or questions to answer welcome.

After almost a month of questionable network connectivity and trying everything we could think of to fix it, our Time Capsule (Apple wireless base station/backup device) was declared dead at the Apple Store yesterday. They gave us a new one. The network is now much, much happier and back to being quick like a bunny, and backups are no longer glacial.

*hugs internet*

Seriously, I’m a geek when it comes to my internet access. I get twitchy when I can’t check my e-mail. My Google Reader is my new best friend. Having to wait five minutes for a page to load makes me crazy. Sure, I like to unplug completely once in awhile but I don’t like having to do it involuntarily and when I have stuff to do.

These past few weeks of lousy connectivity (not completely lost, just intermittent and slow, which was almost more annoying because it was teasing me) made me realize how web-based a lot of what I do can be.

Sure, I can write and paint without the internet. I can paint without a computer at all, but I prefer typing to longhand writing. But I can’t manage anything in my Etsy store without an internet connection. Thus the sale on originals got extended longer than I’d intended, but that’s alright.

And I wonder, sometimes, if I’d be as inclined as I am to push forward with trying to get my novel published if it weren’t for the incredible presence of the publishing industry online.

There are countless informative blogs by literary agents and editors out there. I follow a handful of agents on Twitter, even. There are forums and websites and it’s all so accessible that I’ve learned buckets of stuff about an industry I had no clue about just about a year ago.

(Really. I had a vague concept of publishers and agents and whatnot but I didn’t even know what a query letter was.)

Because of all that easily accessible information I now have ideas and plans and I feel like I know what I’m doing. It doesn’t feel as daunting as it once did. The process of getting from manuscript to bookshelf seems challenging but not mystifying anymore.

I think the point of this post is that I love the internet and I’m glad my little network of computers is happy again because it makes me more productive, even though my job doesn’t seem all that technical.

brave new world

I feel like I’ve been easing into 2009 the way one wanders into OZ or Narnia or something, looking around at the world in a sort of befuddled wonderment and not particularly knowing what to do with myself. That the world outside my windows is a snow-icing landscape of white with creeping black-fingered trees likely only adds to the otherworldliness of it all.

I spent today alternately watching inauguration coverage on CNN and attempting to figure out what was wrong with my printer. It made for an interesting juxtaposition of historically significant and everyday mundane, but didn’t make the world feel any less strange. Maybe it feels even more strange now, strange and new, in a good way. I fixed the printer, so that bodes well.

My Moby-based Pandora station keeps pulling out this track by Jakatta that samples the score of American Beauty, a movie I was somewhat obsessed with nearly ten years ago. It is mixed and layered and might not even be identifiable had you not seen the movie multiple times in the theatre and owned the soundtrack. Listening to it is like having a piece of my past reworked and remixed and made into something new that retains the idea of the original if not the form. It’s disturbing and comforting all at once.

I think I’m still standing in the snow looking at 2009 spread out in front of me all full of possibility and promise and hope, and not sure where it is going to take me. Perhaps I just need to trust in my boots to take one step and then another. Destination unknown.

filling the well

I think it’s Julia Cameron, maybe in The Artist’s Way or The Right to Write or maybe in both, who talks about filling your creative well on a regular basis. That you need to replenish your creativity by absorbing other creative things or nature or just stuff. Having constant input to properly maintain artistic exportation. Or something. She probably puts it much better, and it likely involves Artist Dates.

I sometimes forget I need to do that, to recharge and consume art rather than constantly working on my own. I’ve been busy with other things over the last week or so but haven’t been properly recharging.

And now in the last 24 hours I’ve read the entirety of Watchmen (I had been meaning to pick it up off the to-read shelf for ages) which was even better than I had expected, and watched Tarsem’s The Fall, which might just be my new favorite movie. It immediately earned a place in the all-time top ten at the very least.

I think I feel better because my creative well is fuller from binging on good books and good films and good tea. Must endeavor to be better about consuming them on a more regular basis.

on anniversaries & apples

taken at macks apples, londonderry, nh, 10.13.08

Yesterday was my 2nd wedding anniversary. We went to New Hampshire to go apple picking and bought a cotton candy pumpkin and I took a lot of photos, some of which came out remarkably well. I am endeavoring to be a better photographer. After apple picking (Mutzu apples, which are fantastic) we went out for dinner at the Indian restaurant we’d been meaning to try for ages and it was wonderful. They had naan stuffed with basil that was possibly the best thing ever.

Today I finished the last of my edits on the novel and sent it off all pretty and shiny to be read by a few wise, bookish people to get some outside opinions on it. It is odd to be free of it, if only temporarily. I have been working more or less nonstop on it for the last week or so, since the boy read it and gave me some very good suggestions on things to add and adjust.

I have things to do, of course. I have the troublesome sevens to paint for the tarot deck. I have NaNoWriMo coming up in two weeks and I use a little bit more planning for it, though I never like to plan too much for NaNo. I like to see where November wants to take me without a map.

I should clean the studio, and I would like to add some more things to my Etsy store. I finished The Graveyard Book, which was not entirely what I was expecting but fit my mood nicely and made me want to play in graveyards (which I can easily manage around here). I should start The Catcher in the Rye, or possibly re-read Einstein’s Dreams.

And there are apples to eat, as well.

i like creeds

This is my horoscope, courtesy of the brilliant Rob Brezsny:

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Your creed for the last three months of 2008
comes from Nikos Kazantzakis: “By believing passionately in something
that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we
have not sufficiently desired.” Memorize this meme, Cancerian. Imprint it
on your subconscious mind. Make it so much a part of you that it
breathes as you breathe, and dreams as you dream. Allow it to turn you
into a magician whose potent desire is as strong as the longings of ten
normal people put together.

I think I should calligraph that quote and hang it up somewhere in the studio.

awaiting autumn

I have been in a sort of cocoon of Lapsang Souchong tea and writing lately, alternately accompanied by Philip Glass on solo piano and Zoe Keating on multi-layered cello.

Now I’ve moved on to being vaguely addicted to Amanda Palmer’s new solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer. I wasn’t sure what I thought of it at first but it has grown on me like some sort of musical fungus and I think I love it to little bits. Or something.

Still writing. Still have my Lapsang Souchong. Still have kittens finding new and interesting places to nap. Tessa was all about the front window for awhile (see photographic evidence) and now she’s underneath the gold armchair in the corner. Bucket has taken to flopping in various spots in the hallway so I have to jump over her to get to the kitchen for tea.

It feels like it could trip over into autumn any day now, I am sick of the humidity and I long for scarves and fingerless gloves and pumpkin spice lattes. It is my favorite time of year, all cinnamon and leaves and crisp cool air. Any day now.

I am completely smitten with the Tarot of the Magical Forest.

I don’t often go looking for new tarot decks. I have about, um, twenty or so. I think. I haven’t counted them in awhile. Most of them are in a hatbox but there are others tucked on bookshelves here and there.

I am extremely picky about my tarot decks. I gravitate toward interesting yet consistent art and I like decks that have their own personality but still have recognizable traditional imagery.

And I’m a sucker for something whimsical.

So I don’t know how the Tarot of the Magical Forest stayed under my radar for so long, because I instantly adored it. The Hanged Man batty is particularly fabulous, mostly because it’s so appropriate.

The Hanged Man is one of my favorite cards in any deck, it’s odd and perplexing and so much of it is about perspective. It always reminds me of Odin on Yggdrasil. Sacrifice for insight.

(It also reminds me of the desk-standing from Dead Poets Society, because my tarot-reading influences are many and varied.)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about perspectives and changing as I’m doing massive amounts of editing and rewriting. I am being extremely productive but also extremely thoughtful and reflective about everything as I go over it.

It’s really all about perspective: each character sees the same things colored by experience and role and knowledge. And I get to choose which perspectives are shown when, and in which combinations and how to have them all unfold to tell the story.

It’s rather daunting, really. But I’m finding in editing I can turn things every which way to approach it from any angle. I already have the bulk of the work there, now it’s about filling holes and expanding sections and making it into a cohesive whole. I can work from one character’s angle and then another’s, and I find unexpected things along the way. And when I get stuck I can turn it another way, work on it from another viewpoint.

Maybe that’s the benefit of working non-linearly. Though I suppose it might work with anything.

I sound particularly optimistic today. I blame the adorable batty, though I hope it continues.

(And I’m going to buy the nice deck, of course. As soon as I have enough spare cash.)

blueberry girl

I went blueberry picking with Kyth & Amy in New Hampshire this weekend. We managed to have lovely weather despite the ever-present summer storms, and we had a marvelous time. I’ve never been blueberry picking before. Apple picking many many times but never blueberries. It takes a lot longer to fill a bucket with blueberries than it does with apples.

I was glad that I’d brought my camera. Berries are fun to capture in their natural habitat. I was struck by how much blueberries look like itty bitty pomegranates in shape, and surprised that I’d never really noticed it before.

I now have about 3 pounds of blueberries. We have been snacking on them but have barely put a dent in the haul, so the rest have been relegated to the freezer. (We have a freezer that works now, thankfully.)

I have always loved frozen blueberries. I would eat them by the handful when I was little and my mom would freeze them, sneaking them out of the freezer and not always leaving a reasonable amount left for whatever baking purposes they had been intended for.

I will endeavor to be better with these. I am probably going to make blueberry cookies tomorrow, and possibly some sort of blueberry cake type something later in the week. Or scones, perhaps.

I like having the ability to take a day trip to pick berries on a farm as easily as we can take a day trip into Boston. And I like that we live in a sort of in-between place that’s not too urban and not too rural. I used to think I was a city girl but I never really was, though I am not much of a country girl either. I am something in between. Or maybe I am all kinds of girls, and I fit better in the places that leave me free to be all of them.

I was going to post pictures of kittens but they are being uncooperative. Likely because it is absurdly humid and they are absurdly fluffy and like to flop in difficult to photograph places.

I have been on internet hiatus this week, which usually involves me avoiding the internet save for important things like e-mail and whatnot. It is remarkably beneficial to my productivity level. During this particular hiatus I finished the sixes for the Phantomwise Tarot and drank a lot of wine and thought about the novel a lot. I have something of a timeline for getting things done and I’m going to make charts and maps and helpful tools that will be, well, helpful. I hope.

Tonight the Phantomwise Tarot Shinies go on sale at Wyrding Studios. I have spent a fair amount of the day promoting them in various places and playing e-mail tag with Kythryne. I’m excited about it, I haven’t even seen the finished product in person but I’m sure they’re even lovelier than the photos, since Kyth’s stuff usually is.

I am very much ready for it to cool down and be nicely autumnal already. I always feel out of my element in the summer, despite being a July baby. I want sweaters and pumpkin spice lattes and crispy air and kittens that are more easily photographable.