Last week I managed to get a cold again because 2014 is apparently the year of me being ill, but I’m feeling better this week. I even managed to sit under cherry blossoms in the park. I’m still finding petals in my bag from the cherry blossom rain.
The new Tori Amos album, Unrepentant Geraldines, is beautiful. It reminds me of Scarlet’s Walk. “Oysters” is my favorite track, in that right-song-at-the-right-time way.
I am writing very slowly. I am not where I wanted to be now that it’s cherry blossom season already, but I’m trying to feel alright about that. Things like taking care of myself are taking priority, and there’s a lot of stuff in my head that needs figuring out, fiction-wise.
This tiny post is brought to you by the fact that I needed to post something in between flax-golden tales and I do not have the time or the brain power for a thinky post, and I don’t have enough photos for a proper photo post.
Erinland is going on temporary hiatus. Not that it will be terribly noticeable, since I have pre-scheduled flax-golden tales & will possibly be posting photos from hiatusland, but I thought I’d announce it anyway.
I am hugely busy this week and then I shall be away on proper vacation next week. I might be Instagraming or Tumblring occasionally and I shall try to keep up with Twitter but I won’t have much internet, so I will be mostly unplugged.
For your listening enjoyment while I’m away, something from my latest musical obsession: MS MR.
This is an unnumbered list of things I really like right now. Snapshot of the happy-making tastes and sights and sounds of mid-August, 2013.
Homemade scones with maple butter.
I love scones but had never made one I really loved until recently. I finally found a perfect scone recipe, this one from smitten kitchen. I pretty much follow the recipe except I use gluten-free Cup4Cup flour & both times I’ve made them so far I haven’t had cream so I used a sneaky kitchen trick and substituted melted butter mixed with milk. So even without proper cream they are indeed dreamy cream scones.
Also, I don’t know how I managed to grow up in New England and not discover maple butter (also known as maple cream) sooner, or perhaps it’s just that my tastebuds have evolved and I like maple as a flavor more now, and also I’m not sure I knew what to put it on before, but oh, it is creamy autumnal heaven.
(I’ve also been putting maple butter in my coffee. I think I’m craving fall.)
I owe my parents an apology for not watching this show sooner because they’ve been talking about it for ages. We’re only mid season two (and I’m glad I was forewarned that s2 gets a little slow) so I didn’t even properly look at that AMC link to the show page because as far as I know s3 just ended. I love a good crime show anyway and this one has the best detective pairing I’ve seen in ages. It does make Seattle look super dreary, though.
The Backlit Keyboard on My New Laptop.
I have never had a laptop with glowy keys before and it feels all sci-fi and fancy.
(MacBook Air, for the curious. Same as my old one only glowier and with far superior battery life.)
(Typing on it now. The rest of this novel is in here, I can tell. Well, some of it is in fountain pens, but eventually all of it will be in here.)
We stumbled upon this store in SoHo mostly by accident and I was surprised I hadn’t heard of it before. It is full of skeletons and taxidermy and wonderful-creepy things.
I spent a very long time contemplating whether or not I wanted a taxidermy duckling and then decided it was too “cute but sad.” (Also we have a moratorium on creatures in the apartment right now. From where I’m sitting I can see an elephant, a bunny, two ravens, a small plush white lion and something with tentacles. We have no rule about skeletons, though.)
Going to go back soon to get a pile of antlers to keep in the fireplace. Will possibly tie festive ribbons around them for holidays.
M83′s “Midnight City”
Tweeted this last night:
In that writing phase where I listen to the same song over & over & over again because something in it sounds the way the words should feel.
I’ve been on a search for new music lately because I listen to music when I write. I can’t write in silence but I’m picky about what I can write to. I also like to put single mood-setting tracks on repeat. (I probably should have kept a tally of how many times I listened to Iron & Wine’s “The Trapeze Swinger” while I was working on the circus.) (There is, for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, a circus playlist over here.)
And writing music is an interesting balance, at least for me, because it can’t be distracting but it can’t be so mellow that it makes me sleepy, either.
My writing rotation changes a lot, I’ve been making playlists that are mostly jazz (Coltrane, Ellington, some Charlie Parker) and some other bits and pieces that I keep adding to whenever something reminds me of how I think the new book should feel.
I just got the soundtrack to The Great Gatsby and while I predictably adore the Florence + the Machine song the one that’s getting the constant repeat treatment is the Gotye track, “Hearts a Mess,” even though it bothers me that the title apparently does not have an apostrophe. I might put it on the writing playlist, haven’t decided yet.
But my favorite recent musical discovery is something different.
This is a band called Houses, their new album is called A Quiet Darkness.
I literally clicked on this album in iTunes because I liked the cover. I’d never heard of them, had no idea what kind of music it would be, just found the cover art aesthetically pleasing.
Most fortuitous iTunes click ever.
Only had to preview a handful of tracks before buying the album, only listened to the album once before also buying their previous album. I can’t even describe them properly, the sound is so lovely and ethereal and layered and it is perfection as writing music.
I tweeted about them and they tweeted back because Twitter is MAGIC and as a result of said magic I now have that beautiful album in LP form with nicely giant cover art, hurrah:
Highly recommended if you are looking for new music, and you never know what you might create while listening to it.
I have been meaning to post this for ages, but here is a link to the beautiful music Aby Wolf did for my Talking Volumes event in Minnesota:
Isn’t it pretty? I am delighted beyond measure that the circus is inspiring such loveliness.
This post started as a random collection of things I’ve been listening to & watching lately but then it started wandering into thinky thoughts about input mode versus output mode which is something I think I’ve blogged about before, and I am still very much in input mode right now. So here’s a bit about the stuff I’ve been absorbing.
I have seen more movies this month than I did total in the previous year or so and I will tell you about them! Briefly.
First there was Cloud Atlas which I saw almost immediately after finishing the book so I was likely better prepared than most and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. (I enjoyed the book, too, though not quite as much as I’d wanted to. Partially because I liked the middle bits more than the outside bits.) It’s pretty and I liked the choices made with the story structuring. Also the china shop dream sequence bit was worth the price of admission it made me so happy. That said, I worry it would make absolutely no sense to anyone who didn’t read the book. And I’m looking forward to watching it again on dvd because I’m almost more interested in hearing people talk about it via commentary than the actual watching part.
This past weekend I saw Life of Pi which I read ages ago when the book first came out and I thought the film was lovely, the visuals were gorgeous and I was glad they stuck so closely to the narrative of the book, particularly at the end.
In non-book adaptation movies, Skyfall was awesome. I’m not a huge Bond girl but I loved Casino Royale and I really liked this one, too. Particularly the opening credits.
(Now I’m patiently and somewhat skeptically waiting for The Hobbit.)
In other media, I’ve been playing video games. I am not much of a gamer but in the last couple weeks I got vaguely obsessed with Portal & Portal 2 and they made me happy, because they are the thinky sort of puzzles that I love and also the writing is fantastic. Also they gave me an excuse to have cake.
I find sometimes more than movies certain games get my story-brain going more, maybe it’s the decision making part or the unexpected dragons. (I may have a mild Skyrim addiction.)
I’m finally getting better about acknowledging the fact that all this is productive, even though it doesn’t seem like work. I’ve spent a lot of the last year and a half in circus promo mode and it’s hard to crawl back into the writing cave. Well, no, crawling back in the cave is easy, the difficult part is writing and not just curling up with the bats and taking a cave nap. So I need to wander around outside the cave for a bit and see what there is to see, to get my brain re-acclimated to being creative.
And I like finding those things in non-book forms, I find sometimes stories in film or tv or game or theatre or painting or song form spark ideas just as much if not better than reading other books does. They stretch the imagination in different ways.
I think it’s a Julia Cameron Artist’s Way thing about “filling the well.” About taking time to see and enjoy and absorb new stuff to get your creative brain going. That’s mostly what I’m doing at the moment when I’m not stressing about moving and catching up on life and wondering how it is tipping into December already. Absorbing things and drinking tea and letting my brain soak up the good bits. Sooner or later it’ll bubble over and then we’ll tip back into output mode, I’m sure.
Since we started with music we shall close with music, too. Things I’ve been listening to beyond the mentioned-in-Toronto Andrew Bird include the new Bat for Lashes album and the constantly-in-my-head Adele Skyfall theme, but mostly I’m totally late to the party getting into Of Monsters and Men and I cannot stop listening to this album.
I don’t think Thank You is enough for all the wonderful bookstores and booksellers, for all the readers (whether they’d read The Night Circus yet or not) who came to events and for everyone who organized so many festivals and signings and interviews and flights, but Thank You.
I am slowly re-acclimating to my normal time zone, which has involved sleeping a lot. I am also trying to catch up on things around here that have been neglected during the tour, like cleaning and unpacking things that somehow never managed to get unpacked over the summer.
It’s strange to be done, at least with the travelling. I have things to catch up on (if I owe you an email I’ll get to it soon(ish), hopefully) and the to-do list still seems never-ending and despite all that I know I need some rest. I am not used to so many things and people requiring my attention and I am still adjusting. Also, I’d like to be able to write again at some point.
It is an open-windows, reading in the park sort of day which is rare for this late in November. It’s lovely but not helping me regain my concept of time.
On the flight over to Amsterdam one of the in-flight movie options on the individual embedded in the seat in front of you televisions was Midnight in Paris. I had been told by several people that I would love it and they were correct, it is a marvelous magical fairy tale of a film and I loved it more than I have loved any new film in recent memory. And I’m not even much of a Woody Allen fan.
On the flight back to Boston I half-slept with DeVotchKa’s How it Ends on repeat. So I suppose that makes this the song of the end of the book tour:
I was in Boston for all of six hours last night before flying to London today. Now I am in a very cozy hotel room, unsure of what time it is and unable to blog properly but I have my nice camera with me so there should be proper photos eventually and I will tell you of other travels and adventures as well.
For now, though, I give you what is currently and likely will stay the official theme song of the book tour.