Category Archives: work in progress

Let’s Count 10/22

0 — number of times I’ve been discouraged by Dems in Disarray narrative, Dems need better messaging coverage, negative polls, or Doomsday DOJ sentiments;

0 is also the number of cold frosts so far this year; number of times I’ve had Covid;

1 — number of ballots cast this week; number of books I’m reading right now; number of queries sent out recently; number of mini, fallen skeletons seen in the neighborhood today.

2 — number of meals I served homemade croutons with (homemade spinach soup and a killer Caesar salad); number of manuscript rejections received with an actual email in last few weeks;

3 — number of people within two degrees of separation who have died recently. One was almost 100, one was almost 99, and one was 59. Also number of times I heard the liturgical response in Latin in my head at a funeral Mass this morning;

3.5 — number of inches of hair that I cut off this week;

4 — (also during Mass) number of times I heard my mother’s voice saying, “I love a good Irish tenor;” approximate number of times I wondered what my Jewish neighbors thought about all the sitting, standing, and kneeling going on;

5 — number of WIP quilts that I am actively working on right now;

6 — numbers of days recently racked up without sugar;

21 — number of white linens out to dry at salon on Center Street;

31 — number of tulip bulbs planted in containers to force;

75 — number of daily emails I receive from democratic candidates (just kidding, but whew — it’s a lot);

875 — total number of #PostcardstoVoters I’ve sent out in last two years (this is a real number);

Too many to count — number of times I’ve fast-forwarded through TV news coverage recently either because * I’ve already learned about issue in some detail through twitter or because ** it’s nattering on and on about what Dems are doing wrong or because *** they’re playing a clip of the former guy (and usually one I’ve heard umpteen times before — e.g. portions of his bullying, illegal conversation with Raffensperger); times I’ve felt grateful for Finn’s company.

The number of collages made in the last month, especially digital, is also too many to count.

Using this week’s Paris Collage Collective prompt (palm tree photo)

Handling disappointment

My adoration for the quilts of Bisa Butler and the pandemic began at roughly the same time. If you haven’t discovered her yet, you must, because she is a once-in-a-generation quilter.

Butler’s work is absolutely stunning, in construction, scale, color, and subject matter.

Her quilts document Black life with exuberant patterning and such an incredible ability to render faces and clothing without resorting to paint that she continually reminds viewers that they are 100% cloth. You squint agog wondering, How on earth does she do it?

She’s like Kehinde Wiley on acid.

Not that long ago, I vowed to myself, “When this is all over, I’m gonna see her quilts even if I have to travel to Chicago or Memphis to do so.”

So it might surprise you to learn that I just ordered a book showcasing her portraits rather than truck a few miles down Route 9 to see one of her pieces. A neighbor even lent me her MFA member card so that I could be admitted at no cost.

And still I’m not going.

Is it yesterday’s colonoscopy stopping me? Maybe. At the endoscopy center, there were half a dozen nurses, several doctors, an anesthesiology assistant or two, secretaries, and other patients. They managed risk expertly — everyone wore masks, curtains divided the gurneys, a careful protocol determined who came into the building and when. Still that feels like enough potential exposure for one week.

(P.S. Everything’s fine).

More delays in the editing process mean that I will finally spend two solid weeks polishing a query letter (not like creative writing at all!) and building a functional list of agents. I should have done this a year ago! I signed up for QueryTracker and will look into Submittable and Duotrope, two other literary submission programs. I’m going to be ready to aim and fire the second I get the last batch of edits.

Otherwise, I’ll just kill myself. I can’t keep doing this.

(I’m JOKING).

The situation reminds me of something I read in some book or other on happiness. It has really stayed with me, unlike the author and title of the book. It said something along the lines of this: except for the loss of a partner or a child, almost no disappointments result in significant changes in happiness five years out.

So in other words, if this book never sees the light of day, five years from now I’ll be dead — oops — I mean, my happiness quotient will be roughly the same as it is today.

This reminder is oddly comforting and in no way promotes defeatism.

All of this today makes me feel the fragility of life. It’s so important to breathe, and to be kind to one another, and to make haste slowly.

 

 

The 22nd

Finn likes my heating pad almost as much as I do.

New manuscript, old manuscript, notes on both, laptop repository. It’s slow going. But at least it’s going. My consultant chisels here, there, making the form clearer, not unlike a sculptor working in stone. It’s pretty exciting, though also daunting because it turns out I don’t know jack shit about comma-usage.

Notre Dame + PCC image + paper collage + iPhone scribbles

The temperature is supposed to drop down to 29 degrees tonight. You’d be amazed at how many leaves are still in the trees.

PCC image + photo of bulletin board in my studio

Among the many upsetting manifestations of red wing lunacy and racism lately, today of all days it feels particularly awful that QAnon followers still gather in Dealey Plaza. People of a certain age remember exactly where they were when John F. Kennedy was shot. Where were you?

I was six (earlier I’d written eight! Fell asleep thinking wait, that’s not right). My mother was ironing and crying in front of the television. My brother’s birthday party was cancelled.

Back to basics

Getting back to basics includes expressing gratitude, so let’s start there. I’m grateful for my new juicer, for walks with the dog, especially when K comes along. I’m grateful for hands that still work well enough to be able to make myself a new dog-walk-bag (i.e. one actually commodious enough for treats, poop bags, phone, and masks).

I’m grateful I know what an Oxford comma is, that bleach works on dirty toilets, that I now have chargers in four critical spots in the house.

Also for the gratitude file: the tiny health thing that had me worried even though I pretty thoroughly tamped the worry down, turned out to be 100% nothing. Whew! I was flying high yesterday.

I’m grateful for friends that care about me enough to say: take a news break, Dee, even if I have yet to really manage that.

Besides noting gratitude, historically another basic blog task has been to record progress on projects.

My studio is cleaner and neater than it’s been in forever! How nice is that? Still awful but progress is progress. Also, I’ve been sewing a fair amount without comment here.

For instance, this doll came off The Shelf of Unfinished Creatures last week. I’m calling her the Patron Chicken-Saint of Delayed Success. Maybe just Chicken of Trust would do?

As I wrapped her pipe cleaner arms in fabric, began her wings, and gave her an elegant black lace slip, I toyed with the idea of trusting the timing of things (see note about waiting, above). What if things really do happen when they’re supposed to?

Can you spot the Oxford comma in the paragraph above? I know Liz and Deb will, in any case. Speaking of Deb, the wings will be made of Georgian Magic and I’m pretty sure the polka dot fabric for the arms came from Tina. More gratitude.

Lastly, isn’t it nice to have neighbors with a sense of humor?

Gather up

After writing alone and with others for a while, you have to gather up what you’ve been putting down on the page. Review. This morning I find some scrawls that are an Epilogue to current novel and some other meanderings that may or may not be a second novel.

But it was too cold to sit outside. Even with fleece, blanket, and Oliver Twist-style gloves with the fingertips cut off.

I am officially fully vaccinated now. Wahoo!

Yesterday was a big deal: Shot two DONE and edit three DONE.

Maybe all that happy chatter I’m hearing about Aquarius has something to it.