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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Structure

It wasn't until I got the summons in the mail that I really felt the pressure.

I mean, what's wrong with me?  I did the eight-three job, right?  I taught high school. I wasn't always on time, but I was on time, mostly.  How did I manage then, but not now?  Why does it freak me out so much?

It's not like I don't make deadlines, right?  I usually sit down with a writing objective that I need to meet before I get up for the day.  Sometimes it's a word count for fiction, sometimes it's a project count for shorter non-fiction projects, but I'm pretty reliable.  If I get a warning, I usually pull through.

And yes-- there was a notable exception with the vet's this summer, when I let the cat's semi-annual appointments just blow over my head, in spite of multiple warnings, but for the most part, I get the kids to school, haven't forgotten to get them yet, and make it to their after school functions with enough regularity that their teachers don't shun me and make the sign of the cross as I pass.




But… but…

But something about the idea of getting up at six in the morning so I can get there by eight terrifies me.

I have noticed that my ability to exist in the confines of the regular world has gotten less certain as I spend more time in my own head.  This summer in particular, after I wrapped up a bunch of intense projects and found myself rooting shiftlessly through the house, looking for purpose, I felt in particular that keen vagueness that indicates reality is mighty thin in these parts.  There is no telling when the fabric of time is going to rip, and I'm going to be eyeballs deep in gentle porn stars and sexually hyped sidhe.  (Not that I'd mind, really, but the rest of the family would be a wee bit uncomfortable.)

So I'm going to the big wide world tomorrow-- the real world.  And it might not be that accommodating of my particular brand of madness.

I'll be sure to let you all know how it goes--within reason, of course.

And I'll try not to break through the barriers of reality while I'm at the courthouse.  If it would freak my family out, imagine what it would do to the justice system!

Anyway, my biggest hurdle will be remembering not to wear pajamas and a bra.  Let's cross our fingers, shall we?

***

Okay-- that being said, in my last blog I said I'd post a winner on August 11th.  I am extending that deadline to August 16th, because I think that link is going to be published with the RARM people, and I want to give them a chance.  So, two blogs away.  Oi.  The only thing I know about August 16th is that it's opening day for soccer, and the kids will have been in school for a whopping two days.  They're looking forward to school-- and are way ready to have structure again-- which makes me think we should all give it up for teachers, because they are the awesomest, giving that to our kids when it's just not that easy, yanno?

Oh!

And on the home front?

Well, I did get out and have dinner with fellow authors J. Scott Coatsworth, Christopher Koehler, and L.E. Franks this Friday-- and after the wonderful Mexican food and gelato, well, Mate and I ran away and watched Guardians of the Galaxy again.  What can I say-- it's been a long time before a movie ended and we both unbuckled out seat belts, looked at each other, and said, "Again!"

We topped off our weekend with… okay, Mate took the kids and went to help his mother while I wrote, but before that, we took the kids to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was not, actually, that awful.  (High praise for a Michael Bey movie, trust me.)  And the kids, bless them, following the grand tradition of Star Wars and Grease, dressed up.  (Squish is being April O'Neil, intrepid girl reporter.  For the record, Megan Fox was a much older April O'Neil, which was okay, because it made the pair up of her and Will Arnett not quite as creepy as it might have been.)  Anyway-- the kids were cute.  Made it worth it, right? 

The best part was when Mate looked up, halfway to the movie theater and said, "Oh, I get it!"

"Get what?"

"He's dressing up for the movie!"

Well, uhm, yeah!

Also…

I've started a new story.  It's called Immortal.  Those of you who have read Truth in the Dark (which raised $125 for the Keith Milano Fund for Suicide Prevention-- WOOT WOOT!) or Hammer & Air, this story is fantasy, like those, with a first person narrator.  But it's not based on a fairy tale so much as it is it's own fairy tale, and a part of me is just rejoicing to be back in this world where my first person narrator gives us a highly filtered version of the truth.

This one, though, I think will be full length, because I have no word count limit, and, well, because I'm at 15K and Teyth is still a child.

I love those books.  I love writing this.  It's gonna fill my soul :-)

The excerpt here is from the second chapter.  Enjoy.


The Iron From Which We’re Forged

The thing about being born, is that you wake up and the world is strange, and you cling to the familiar: your mum’s face, the sight of the sky, the taste o’ milk.  And as you grow, you take in a few new things every day, and they become familiar too.  By the time you have words, your world has the things you know, and they are so natural that when you are asked to speak o’ them, you can’t.  These things are not spoken, they simply are.
The poor have to fight for their living.  The rich have it given. 
The castle were the beginning and ending, and our rights were simply not.
To have money or a prick gave you power.  To have neither left you bereft.
These are things that every child knows.  Aye, the rich might deny, justify, tell us that being rich is a virtue and poor a vice, but Mum were working the land all on her own before the prince taxed her twice for being a woman.  There’d been no reason to turn to the likes o’ Kump if the world had not made her vulnerability its trophy.  
And had I not been “sold” into slavery to the men who set me free, I might’ve been locked into that world, that same sky, that same taste, because I had no words for the familiar but “It simply is.”
But I were sold, and my familiar changed as well. 
I do not remember much o’ that first day.  Diarmuid greeted us at breakfast with a bandage around his forearm and a determined smile on his face. 
He’d made eggs.
I were sunk in misery, but I ate every last bite.  Not often, but sometimes we know what things are worth, even in our ignorance.
After that, it were a blur o’ fetching water, fetching implements, learning what things went where.  Cairsten, who were patient as an angel when I’d skewered his journeyman suddenly became a roaring barking demon, and the only thing that kept me from tears were the hope that the angel would be back in the evening.
Diarmuid apparently knew that fear. 
“Where’s the water, boy?” Cairsten demanded.  “Dammit, we need the fuckin’ water or the bucket’ll catch fire—it’s not a fuckin’ whim!”
I were working hard, but my legs weren’t long, and the pump in the kitchen weren’t easy either.  I had to stretch on my toes to reach it, and it were harder to prime than all that. 
“Sorry,” I gasped, sloshing water on me breeches.  “Oi!  But I’m sorry, Cairsten, so sorry—“
“Easy,” Diarmuid said, as placid as always.  “Here, let me.”  He took the bucket from my numb fingers and dumped the water in the big oaken barrel where they tempered the heated metal.  A gush o’ steam erupted, and I jumped back, frightened, because it were scalding hot.  Neither Diarmuid nor Cairsten jumped much, but then, they were used to such heat.  The smithy itself were an oven, and my much coveted eggs had near to been vomited out right after breakfast when I’d tended the bellows for near to an hour.
Now, Diarmuid looked at Cairsten and said, “We’re done here.  I’ll bring another bucket and make lunch.”
Cairsten, for his part, blinked like a man coming from a dream.  “Lunchtime?  Is it lunch?”
“Aye.  And if Teyth don’t want to run away after lunch, I think he needs a rest.”
“Of course he needs a rest,” Cairsten rumbled.  He looked at the swords set on the wall and nodded.  “We worked a fair bit today, boys.  Teyth, much o’ that speed were yours to claim.  Well done.  Aye, D.  Get that bucket.  We’re good for the day.”
I gaped at him, stunned at the praise, at the thanks, at the pleasant master as opposed to the barking demon.  Diarmuid smiled wearily and ruffled my hair.  I were so weary, I didn’t even flinch. 
“He’s like this,” he said, hefting the bucket for me and walking down the close, hot corridor that separated the infernal smith’s forge from the cottage and the snug kitchen.  “In a job, when he’s taken by his work.  He yells, he curses, he demands—but when he’s done, he’s all that’s kindness.  Much o’ it is for safety, ye ken?  The barrel catching flame, the pump going too fast or too slow—these things’ll kill a boy who’s not wary, aye?”
I nodded, understanding some now.  “Aye.”
“It’s hard work,” he said, opening the door.  “Dinna worry, though, Teyth.  Yer doing fine.”  Without thinking about it, he winced when his wound hit the door, and my heart quailed.
“When I’m not taking a knife to ye,” I mumbled.  “I can carry the bucket.”
“Is naught,” he said firmly.  “I’ll fill the bucket again if ye can cut bread and cheese for lunch, aye?”

I would have to take it.  Forgiveness had been offered for neither silver nor gold. I’d be a fool not to buy with my gratitude.


2 comments:

Carolyne Kleinman said...

"Guardians of The Galaxy" is a winner all the way around....Date night movie for this week will be "Lucy"...and I can hardly wait.

Love the new piece...coming from a family of blacksmiths, I can vouch for the magic of the forge... and that brings back fond memories. :)

Evaine said...

I loved both Truth in the Dark and Hammer & Air SO much! In my mind they're your lyrical tales, special little gems; enchantments if you will. :) So I'm thrilled there's to be another!