Any writer will tell you, nothing is better than the rush you get when a work in progress is going well -- and nothing is worse when it doesn't. What's bizarre is when it happens at the same time. Up until last night, I've been arm-wrestling my way through one novel and sprinting through another, and because deadlines are swooping in for the kill, staggering the work on both in 6 hour intervals versus the usual 24. It's not going at all how I expected, either: the romantic suspense is giving me nothing but grief, and the Christian series novel is practically writing itself. In the background is the newly-finished outline for the next SF novel, whispering "I'm next, brace yourself."
I'm at the point now where I may scrap what I've written on the romance and start over from scratch. I hate when I do this to myself, but it feels right, and I always go with the instincts. I'll keep the earlier version, rewrite the book from page one and then compare the two. Usually I can see a distinct improvement when I throw out the old stuff and clear my head. It's just frustrating because time is so short now, and it'll mean tacking on another two hours of writing a day. Tonight I'm taking off to have dinner with a friend, then it looks like I'll be chained to the machine until mid-January.
But, Mom, She's Wearing a Ring!:
If you want to buy a pregnant doll, you'll have to go somewhere other than Wal-Mart, as the store has once again yanked
a product off the shelves for being -- well, I'm not sure, exactly, Wal-Mart's not saying. Midge, the toy being yanked, is part of the Happy Family collection, and is pregnant. She has a detachable stomach which reveals a fetus inside the doll. The article notes that Midge does wear a wedding ring, and that her husband and an older child are sold separately. Apparently in the world of Barbie, there are no unwed mothers or unplanned pregnancies.
I've gotten into a Wal-Mart/censorship debate before, and I agree that stores have the right to sell -- or refuse to sell -- whatever they want. I personally think a pregnant doll is a neat idea, though. I'd get one for my daughter, if she ever renews her interest in Barbie dolls. At the moment she's more interested in lizards and lady bugs and beetles. What disturbs me is that someone actually complained about this doll, enough to get it pulled from the shelves. What is obscene about a pregnant female? Why would you want to shield your child from such a natural part of life?
And Just to Keep Things Interesting:
Evidently Blade Dancer has been moved up for release in August, though no one bothered to let me know. Another batch of promo bites the dust. Still, I'm learning; I only did some bookmarks and excerpt chapbooks this time around, and I'm not going to bother to put anything up on my web site for a while. Also, the marketing information being distributed by NAL to book buyers is wrong, I've had five straight bestsellers, not three, and I won't be having any booksignings, readings or otherwise making any personal appearances. Alas, much as I (cough) wish I could, I'm going to be too busy writing new books (but geez, where do they come up with this stuff?)
Six months ago, this would have sent most of my needles into the red, but I just laughed today. It's great letting go of everything but the work. The work is a lot more fun.
Thirty odd e-mails this morning from various media folks, asking for comments and blurbs. What the heck do I say? "I'm glad they didn't name her Cherijo, that would have really weirded me out" ?
Stranger than Fiction:
Brigitte Boisselier, head of Clonaid, an organization founded to pursue human genetic engineering, claims she and her company have succeeded
in bringing to term and delivering a human clone, a baby girl born on Thursday, December 26th. No news on where the baby was born, or to whom. If DNA tests prove that the child is an exact genetic duplicate of a thirty year old American woman who donated her DNA for the process, the baby will be the first publicly acknowledged human clone.
I have very mixed feelings about this announcement, but I'll wait until the claim is verified before I comment. Suffice to say, if it's true, we have entered a very dangerous time in our history.
Since I don't use alcohol, and all my drains are clean and deodorized, I donated the bottles of wine and liquor I received as gifts over the holidays to some friends. They're having a New Year's Eve sleepover party (everyone who drinks has to bring a sleeping bag and bunk down on the floor for the night to avoid any DUIs.) I got cookies and a big jar of homemade peach preserves in exchange, so it was an excellent trade. Georgia peach preserves are about as close to manna from heaven as you can get in the South, and perfect on top of hot cereal.
The usual post-Christmas depression hasn't set in; maybe because I'm finally outgrowing the sulking-over-the-past thing. I can't complain that much about the year. There was major turbulence, but I got rid of most of it: finalized the divorce, walked away from the career nonsense, stabilized the rocky finances and (at last) quit trying to fit my square-peg self into those round little pro-authorial slots. I saw friends suffer -- way too much -- but in most cases I was able to help a little. When I needed them, they were there for me.
Whatever you believe in, God, Buddha, the Earth Mother, or nothing at all, I think you'll agree that we are all blessed to have something in our lives that make us better people. Even if it's only ourselves and our dreams. More than anything, God, my kids, my friends, and my writing clan got me through 2002, and knowing them made me a better person. I don't know that I deserve all these blessings, but I am very grateful for each and every one of them.
I spent Christmas Eve enjoying every single moment I could with the children. We finished our last minute preparations, hailed the UPS and mail carrier (more surprises, and yes Sarah, the box arrived!) and paid a visit to a local hospital to drop off books and cookies for the medical folks working the holiday. I played the Nutcracker Suite continuously (and no one complained once), indulged in my annual Christmas Eve seafood fest with crab and shrimp, and nearly had a coronary when both kids volunteered to go to bed early.
We were all up at 6 am to see that yes, Santa had indeed stopped in. My ex came over, I made our traditional Christmas breakfast -- the only cooking I do for the entire day -- then had to see the kids off as they went to spend the rest of the day at their Dad's. Even though I had prepped myself for it, it was a depressing feeling. The only time I was alone during the holidays was in military basic training, and even then I was surrounded by 49 other homesick airman -- so we partied. Besides that one year, Christmas has always been a day for family.
Determined not to be a cry baby about it, I grabbed a handful of my TBR stack and settled in for a quiet day of reading and relaxing. Santa must have picked up some psychic vibes on the return trip, though, because my worn-out ex brought the kids back to me a few hours later. I was so happy I actually threw my no-cooking vow out the window and made cotton candy and icees (trying out Kath and Mike's new gifts), and baked cookies until 11 pm.
I know someday the children will be grown and have homes and families and lives of their own, and I'll either be on my own or visiting them. I also fully intend to equally share the kids with my ex until then -- I don't think any divorced parent should have to face Christmas alone. It was just a lovely gift not to have to do it this year.
Like a Bandit:
Santa stopped in early today, and brought some beautiful cards and gifts that were unexpected, wonderful, glorious, decadent, scrumptious and delightful. And (evil laugh) they're all mine.
I should have put a couple packages under the tree and waited 'til Christmas to open them, but the cats have staked out the tree skirt and they aren't giving up their new territory without a fight. See what an understanding pet owner I am?
I was feeling a little sorry for myself before all this, because I have to split up my holiday time with the kids. It's such a wrench to see them off to their father's when they were always mine 24/7 before. But I learned some things today: even when I'm by myself, I'm not alone. Dreams do come true, if you believe in yourself. More than anything, I am so blessed to have my children and my friends.
Oh -- and white chocolate peanut butter cups are to die for. :)
One of our dear friends gave us a lovely treat basket for the holidays, and along with lots of interesting nibblies she included beautifully decorated pretzels hand-dipped in white and milk chocolate. The kids shook their heads when I offered the pretzels to them -- though my intrepid daughter sampled one to be sure it wasn't for her -- and I wondered if I should just toss them. I've never had a pretzel dipped in chocolate, even when I was a kid; Mom considered corrupting chocolate with anything heresy. At the same time, I hate to waste food -- especially a gift of it -- and they really looked wonderful.
After dinner last night, I grabbed one of the pretzels, scrunched up my face, and bravely nibbled.
It was a strange taste at first -- pretzel being crackery and salty, the chocolate being smooth and sweet, and both being relegated to different snack centers in my brain -- but then I took a bigger bite and chewed. The tastes blended, and I recalled a romance novel where the heroine ate bread and chocolate (Chase the Moon, I think.) Suddenly it made sense to my taste buds. It wasn't bad at all, in fact, it was kind of neat. I polished off the rest of the pretzel and felt very pleased with myself. I'll never be Indiana Jones, but these little adventures are fun anyway.
No Barbies for this kid. She wants a skateboard, and a sewing machine, and her own country. Maybe I should check and see if the price ever came down on that island around Fiji . . .
Misery Lacks Company:
Holidays bring out the best/worst in people, but after dealing with one of the worst today, I wish the Christmas genie would scoop up these unhappy folks and do
something with them so the rest of us can have a good time. You know who I'm talking about, those special individuals who are not only hateful, miserable and unable to utter a single good word all month but take bitter glee in spreading the lack of joy. Let's shuttle these people off to a remote corner of the world where they can form Let's Despise Everything colony.
I've been accused of being militantly cheerful every time the holidays arrive, and well, yeah, I am. Oh, it's not a fashionable attitude, and to some it's probably damn annoying, but like I care. Fact is that I have few fond memories of Christmas, and many excellent reasons to hate it, but why do that to myself and the children? Most of the people who ruined Christmas for me are no longer part of my life. Those who are I tolerate in small doses and avoid the rest of the time.
This is Mike and Kathy's childhood, and I think it should be magical time for them. That kind of joy is like a second-hand high -- no matter how much Yuck-Christmas baggage you're carrying, you can't help feeling some of the wonder yourself. So, if you find yourself plowing through the holidays and bitching at everyone around you, come to a full stop and think about what you're doing. If you're really that miserable and nothing will help raise your spirits, go lock yourself in a dark room and leave the rest of us alone.