Below the ribs

Last night I dreamed that I’d invited everyone in B’s class – plus parents and siblings – to drop by our house for tapas after school. The trouble was, I didn’t know how many people were in his class, or how many family members they had, or how many of them were actually going to show up, or what kind of food they liked. I had to make tapas anyway, because I’d committed to it, and so most of the dream was spent racking my brains for things that would be good to make and would serve lots of people (I calculated that we’d need about 5 gallons of tapenade. I was going to make it in one of those big orange Home Depot buckets, as if it were grout).

It was only after I woke up and was staggering downstairs in the dark that it occurred to me that this was an anxiety dream, and that I’d been having anxiety dreams pretty much every night for a week or more. Some had been more anxious than others. The one where my husband fought 18 zombies had hardly seemed to count, because he’d defeated them (I was pretty useless, though, and I can’t pretend the onset of zombie apocalypse is a cheerful, optimistic scenario). Others were worse. I don’t remember them all, only that after each one I thought to myself, “That was weird, having an anxiety dream when I’m not actually anxious!”

How many anxiety dreams do I need to have before I set myself down and ask my brain what’s going on? Many, apparently.

A friend recently told me the etymology of the word “hypochondria,” which didn’t always signify imagined illness. It originally meant something more akin to melancholy. The Greek roots mean “under the ribs,” right where the stomach and liver reside. And that, in my experience, is where anxiety (depression’s partner-in-crime) is felt. A knot at the solar plexus, or a stab, or a fizz if it’s very light.

That last feeling is easy to dismiss. I’ve been dismissing it. My brain, always smarter than I am, has had to yell at me in my dreams just to get me to notice. I’m mentioning it here so I can’t just bury it again (which is tempting).

I am anxious. Maybe it’s about revisions. Maybe it’s about the drought we’ve had this summer (I think this under-rib fizz may have started in July, when the city was choked with wildfire smoke; it was ominous and end-times-y). Maybe it’s about upcoming travel (I’m going to Singapore!) or upcoming public speaking (I’m teaching a workshop — in Singapore!). Maybe it’s all these things, plus a few more, together in just the right proportions.

There are ways out of the labyrinth, always, but you can’t start looking for them until you fully admit you’re there.

So here I am.


The sleeper awakens

It’s always hard to get back to the blog when you’ve been slacking. And I really have been slacking, although not always without reason. I cut my finger quite badly at the end of July — three stitches, I named it “Frankenfinger” — and then I had to sulk for a while, even after it healed, because it hurt to type.

I can finally say it doesn’t hurt anymore. It just feels like there’s a bead under the skin, so when I touch surfaces I don’t exactly feel them. I feel the lump of scar tissue in my finger. That hurt for several weeks, but now it doesn’t. I’m back to typing normally.

Which is good! I have a novel to revise, after all. I have you lot to occasionally amuse. I spent much of August reading, so I have a few interesting thoughts stored up. Maybe.

Anyway, I hope you’ve all been well and are ready for September. We’ve had some November-grade rain set in, here in Vancouver, and it’s such a relief after a dry spring and summer. I’m not such a fan of relentless sunshine.

More tomorrow, perhaps, now that I’ve finally broken the ice.


Oh, there I am!

Back from SDCC just in time to be bowled over by editorial notes. Looking forward to a day when this is no longer like being hit over the head with a two-by-four, but then again that might not be an actual day that comes. I may have to give up on that as yet another foolish dream of youth (youth itself, more sensible than I, quit years ago).

So yes, kind of dizzy from it all. Not much else to report beyond, still here, send chocolate.


Off to SDCC

Anybody going to San Diego Comicon? I’ve got a bookstore event and a panel. Here are the details:

Thursday, July 9th, 7pm — Barnes & Noble, 10775 Westview Parkway, San Diego — “Get Pop Cultured” panel discussion with Arwen Elys Dayton and Mariko Tamaki. Signing to follow.

Saturday, July 11th, 2-3pm — SDCC Panel Room 9, “Keep YA Weird.” Followed by group signing at table AA09

Really looking forward to it! Please do come and say hi.


I moved and Chris Squire died

Those two things are not related, I promise.

However, I wanted to let you know where I’ve been (moving across town), and Chris Squire dying was what gave me the impetus to pause in my unpacking and dash off a blog post.

If you read this blog at all regularly, you know I love YES. Well, Squire was the foundation and heart of YES, to me. Here he is being Fish-tastic.

Anyway, back to the unpacking. I’ll come up for air again soon, I promise.


Hello my readers, hello my fandom

This interview with Cassie Clare and Maggie Steifvater is circulating on the Twitters today, and I found it thought-provoking. Writers do indeed have kind of a peculiar relationship with readers in this day and age, and when readership crosses over into fandom it can become even more fraught.

(I know Cassie Clare is a particularly polarizing figure – I remember this from my Goodreads days – but she’s also a human being trying to juggle the conflicting demands of fame and creativity, and as such she has my interest and my sympathy.)

There have always been reclusive writers; Salinger comes to mind, but he’s hardly the only one. I totally get that impulse. Fame can be anathema to creativity, for some of us. I want to say it’s an introversion thing, but who knows. I need more data to make that claim. There’s a special kind of scrutiny reserved for writers, however; we are expected to be wise and witty at all times. For me (and I don’t believe I’m alone in this), the idea that people are watching expectantly, waiting for me to be brilliant, is death to brilliance. My wit is, in my experience, a bit like Michigan J Frog:

That is to say: busting out all over when left to its own devices, limp and croaking when a funny dance is demanded of it. I am happy to perform – I quite enjoy an audience – but it has to be in my time and on my terms.

This doesn’t mean no one should scrutinize my work or attempt to engage me. More that I can explain my own rules for the “wedding math” Stiefvater mentions: I will smile back if I have the energy to spare, if you’ve caught me at the right time, but that isn’t always the case. If I don’t engage, it has everything to do with me being self-protective of that recalcitrant singing frog. It’s nothing personal. I love you all and deeply appreciate your enthusiasm. My first duty, however, is to my health and work.


You need some kannel

Or maybe I do. Here’s Lauri Õunapuu rocking the hell out of the Estonian zither:

Did you know a zither could do that?? Well, now you do.


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