Monthly Archives: September 2008

Ohmie

I used to think Sphynx cats were ugly little things.  They’re growing on me!  Bonnie, stay tuned to Goodreads for the relevance of these photos!  😀

For those of you who aren’t Bonnie, check out “Arassa”, my novel-in-progress.  You can find it here, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page:

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1090425

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The Importance of the Othermind

I am not a morning person. I like to wake up slowly and give my brain time to adjust to the sometimes horrifying fact that I am not independently wealthy and must actually go to work. And don’t get me wrong, most of the time I enjoy my job. But enjoyment can’t change the fact that I am forced to rise earlier than I would like, only to spend long hours at a place that is not my true life. For some people, that isn’t true; they are their jobs, they consider their jobs some sort of soul-satisfying ‘career’. Those people are completely alien to me.

No. The worse thing about an alarm clock going off in the morning is that it tears me away from my real world, and the work that actually does satisfy my soul: dreaming. Now I’m not talking about being asleep and dreaming, I’m talking about the extraordinary twenty minutes or so when I’m when awake, but I’m so recently asleep that I’m still holding hands with my unconscious mind (or the ‘othermind’, as I call it). During that brief time, I can think about my book-in-progress and my characters, and I can see what needs to happen next – I can discover the most wonderful plot points, and it all fits together with ease. It’s not as if I’m thinking anything rationally, I’m just floating somewhere in a soft place, and I’m observing what happens as the othermind puts everything together for me in clear, visual images that make me run scrambling for a pen once I really wake up. Those twenty minutes are the closest thing I’ll come to actual magic: I treasure them, and I’m jealous of them.

The othermind and I are learning to work together, learning ways of communication. It takes effort, and I think a lot of people (the people who say they aren’t creative) have grown up so effectively that they’ve shut out every vestige of natural communication between the ‘rational’ conscious part of their brain and the silent, often wordless unconscious. After all, it’s the othermind who still believes in monsters possibly under your bed when you’re thirty-something, and so what good is it? It obviously can’t be trusted; better just to suppress it entirely and believe solely in hard beliefs like mathematics and what you’ve seen with your own eyes.

Well, I’m willing to be sometimes freaked out by the idea of monsters under my bed, if it brings with it the beauty of believing that possibly anything is possible, if it brings with it the ability to see into other worlds that never existed until I made them exist, if it lets me look at something ordinary or ugly and see how I could turn it into something that other people would want to look at, if it lets me feel like at any moment magic could happen, because magic does happen. It happens all the time, all around us, only most people are too occupied with seeing what their eyes have seen before to notice how the ordinary is suddenly extraordinary.

Puddles on the street, for instance. How many people make a habit of looking into every one they pass? I do, and I never fail to be awestruck by how each is a reflection of a world that seems more beautiful that ours. How is it, that surrounded by concrete and oil spills, puddles find the only angle to reflect the sky? Or a branch of perfect golden leaves you somehow never noticed? Or an eerily gorgeous distortion of a building that surely never was in your world? How many people look only at the mud and miss all the windows?

How many people will go out in the rain for the sole purpose of seeing raindrops on their garden leaves? Am I the only one raising my hand? What about frost? Or moss growing up a wall or in a broken piece of pavement – how many people get out the moss-remover without even spending one moment to stroke the moss and notice the delicate clinging tendrils? How many people dig dandelions out of their yard without ever having looked at a dandelion flower up close and recognized its beauty? The death of imagination, and the suffocation of the soul, begins with the forgetfulness to look at the ordinary, and to keep looking at it for all of your life.

Be scared of silly things, dream in that extra twenty minutes without feeling lazy, and consciously peer into every ordinary, overlooked thing you can find. You’re not wasting anything, certainly not time; you’re enriching your othermind, and you’re giving it a language to speak with.

Nesting.

I’m writing the first draft of one novel, revising another, and supposed to be thinking about those exclusively. Instead I’m…well, I’m nesting. I’ve had this idea for a time travel novel, weaving the concept of ‘time slips’ with ghosts and hauntings. I have the main viewpoint character, a ghost hunter named Molly, and Molly and her world have been quietly loitering in my mind for a couple of years now, waiting their turn to be written.

And then Flinders stumbled in last week. He’s a British soldier during the American Rebellion (as he calls it), loyal to the Crown but a little bit treasonous; a roguish quick-witted time-traveler who enjoys keeping a life (and a woman) in every century that appeals to him.

Like any woman who’s met her ideal literary man, I am, as I said, nesting. Instead of devoting 100% of my brain to my current books-in-progress, I’m flitting about like a giddy girl: gathering interesting bits of revolutionary war history, stories of time-slips, and imagining the smell of Flin’s coat (it smells of gunpowder). I’m pulling all these bits of things into my imagination and building myself a cozy chaotic nest of raw ideas and knowledge… and out of this, in time, will emerge a book.

Here’s my list:

The feel of a tree frog, cupped in my hand.

A new piece of uncut fabric.

Ancient trees.

The smell of gunpowder.

A brand new pen.

Migrating geese, honking overhead.

Frozen cherries.

Anticipation.

Everything about a duckling.

Old things.

Thunder and lightning storms.

Roller coasters.

These apricot candies that are only sold in one shop located in VA (I live in WA). http://grandmaspantryva.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=GP&Product_Code=606

The look in my dog’s eyes.

Night.

The feeling of deep history you can only get in places like England.

An egg so freshly laid that it’s still warm and sticky.

French Fries.

Llamas’ faces.

Sitting surrounded by tall, wind-whispering grass.

Dreaming.

Fried chicken hearts.

Laughing so hard I can’t breathe for the pain.

Grasshoppers jumping away as I walk.

The smell of books and paper.

These are a few of my favorite things.

Steampunk

I spend too much time on Etsy.com and eBay.com just lookin’, and for a while now I’ve noticed that when I find something I think is particularly cool, it has the search tag of “steampunk” attached to it. Finally, last night, I got curious enough to google the word. What is this thing that I so obviously like?

I found a wikipedia entry first: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk

This partially explained my attraction, but then I stumbled across a list of words and phrases that encapsulate the steampunk alternate world:

Airships

Goggles

Pocket watches

Gears and clogs

Wilson Safety Glasses

Neo Victorian dresses

Steam trains

Brass and copper

Mad scientists

Monocles

Tesla

Unusual inventions

This may be a sign of how truly (happily) strange I am, but I love all those things (except for the Wilson Safety Glasses…and that’s probably because I’ve never heard of them – another thing to google). And then I discovered that people actually create fabulous costumes based on the above things! At that point, I was officially lost.

It’s too late to make my own steampunk costume for Halloween – it’s going to take some serious magpie collecting to do this new culture right, but for next year? Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes! And worse still, since I enter Jacks (my dog) in the Petco Halloween Costume Contest every year, and pets can only win first place if their owners show ‘participation’ by dressing in a matching costume, Jacks is going to have her own steampunk costume as well. I visualize goggles, a pair of ‘Da Vinci’ canvas and wire and gear wings strapped to her back, and just perhaps…a little battery-operated propellor that actually propels.

Walking Away With My First Post

This is my first post, and I’m finding it strangely intimidating. Funny thing, I made a list of subjects that seemed quite pressing to write about, but now that I’m sitting here, hands on keyboard, I’m not finding them so urgent. If this were public speaking, I’d be the one standing at the podium stammering and turning red, while all my notes flutter down like confetti around my knees.

Well, okay. Since I apparently can’t come up with anything meaningful or profound for my first post, let’s go with frivolous.

I want these boots. These, right here:

I found their picture on the site: www.virtualshoemuseum.com and I’ve been longing after them ever since. I haven’t even dared check their price, because, hello, just the fact that I want them so badly shows how expensive they are. And they’re shoes. They’re not world peace, or Chuck Baldwin elected for president. If I had them, I’d throw them on the floor of my closet, just like my $3 WalMart sneakers.

But I can almost touch the shiny little black buttons, and almost feel the wap wap wap of the pink ribbons hitting the back of my heels as I strut down the street.

Sigh.