May 16th, 2009

Middle Triassic

"The tides will come and go, witnessed by no waking eye."

There's this thing that's been happening with increasing regularity the last few months. I sit down to write, and I lock up. And I can't imagine anything more terrifying for someone in my position. I'll have an idea (which used to be the hardest part), but then I can't find the tone, the words, the characters. For me, writing is never easy. It's always like pulling teeth. The last few months, it's been like pulling teeth without anything to numb the pain. Now, I'm smart enough and experienced enough to know that this is happening because I'm writing far too much (just consider, for instance, the 60+ stories I've done for Sirenia Digest since December 2005), story-after-story, novel-after-novel, without significant breaks. I also know that being so reclusive, rarely leaving the house, rarely speaking to anyone but Spooky, that's not helping either. I also know that the workload isn't going to get lighter anytime in the foreseeable future, not if I want to keep the bills paid. Oh, and then there's the stress, and the constant insomnia. And the seizures. But I place most of the blame on too much work and too little time Outside.

Yesterday, I sat down to begin a new sf story that's due at the end of May, one that really means a lot to me. I've got an idea I love. It's familiar territory. I even found the title with relative ease. "Galápagos." And then...nothing. The words wouldn't come. I locked up. I panicked. After a couple of hours of feeling as though I was suffocating, I got up and went to the front parlor where Spooky was sewing. We talked for a while, about all this, only in far greater detail than I'll go into here. I resolved to do the only thing I can do. Keep writing, trying to cut myself a little slack, shelve one or two projects that really wouldn't have helped out that much financially (never mind if I wanted to do them), and get out more often. The last one is the most important, I think. I cannot write about a world I never fucking see. I cannot continue to write about people when I've stopped talking to people. My imagination can only get me so far without actual input from external sources. I went back into my office and wrote 668 words on the new story. Not great, but better than the zero word count I'd expected to have for the day.

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When I was done for the evening, we got dressed and dove down to South County and Moonstone Beach. We'd not been to Moonstone since that frigid day in February when we rescued the steamquid. Despite a forecast calling for rain, the day was bright and sunny and almost warm (66F or so). As we left Providence, I was pleased to see that the trees are all green and leafy. The woods are beginning to look like summer, even if it feels like early spring out there (my expectations have yet to adjust to the realities of New England seasons). This changed a little as we got closer to the beach. Down there, the trees are not so far along, not so leafy. But it was good just to be out of the house, away from the keyboard.

There was a mist racing across Trustom Pond, and we parked in the turn around and headed across the dunes to Moonstone Beach. To the south, towards Greenhill, I could see a wall of mist moving in. It's late enough in the year that most of the beach is fenced off again, because it's a protected nesting area for piping plovers and least terns. We walked among the sand and cobbles, just soaking in the salty air and the roar of the breakers. I found a moonstone (the plagioclase feldspar oligocase) almost as big as my fist, almost perfectly round. We found a few unusually large pieces of beach glass. There were birds everywhere, especially back in the dog roses behind the dunes: catbirds, wrens, red-winged blackbirds, robins, mockingbirds, gulls, cormorants. Spooky spotted a Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia), which was a new one for both of us. After half an hour or so, the fog rolled in, and the temperature plummeted. The sun became a dim smudge in the sky. We stuck it out a little longer, then headed back to the car. We had dinner at Iggy's in Narragansett, then drove down to the Point Judith lighthouse for a bit. The tide was further out than I'd ever seen at the point, and there was a man fishing, and a guy on a surfboard, almost lost in the fog. I think we made it back to Providence about 9 p.m.

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We finished watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer last night (second time for both of us). I think I've come to the conclusion that the series was at its best in seasons four and five, and that the last episode of Season Five would have made a marvelous conclusion for the story. Paradoxically, though, some of the series' very best episodes don't come along until seasons six and seven, despite those weaker story arcs that characterize the last two seasons. The first two seasons are hardly watchable, and it amazes me that the show survived long enough to find its footing. Still, glad it did. And after Buffy, we watched Repo — The Genetic Opera (2008) again, because we've both been wanting to see it a second time.

And that was yesterday, snipped and styled and prettied up.

Spooky's got new stuff up in her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid, including the cats that everyone seems to love so much.

If I'm forgetting anything, it can wait until later. There are photos from yesterday, of course:

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