In Which Our Heroine's Brain Is Confusing

21 December 2003

The problem, I think, is that the elves were all smarmy. I mean, there's Weaving, who is smarminess incarnate. There's Cate Blanchett, and while I wouldn't say she chewed the scenery, she certainly gnawed her lines a bit, and if she gave one more mysterious elfy smile I was going to launch myself at the screen howling. (We'd best pray that there isn't an additional one in the extended edition.) Haldir, whoever the actor was, had that smirkiness, too. Liv Tyler and (oh, fangirls and -boys everywhere just shoot me, I'm forgetting his name...) Orlando Bloom (Whew!) weren't what I'd call smarmy, but they weren't Arwen and Legolas in my head. And they still aren't.

Maybe if it weren't for the elves, the movie characters would have usurped my head when I watched "The Fellowship of the Ring." But it was for the elves; they didn't. The casting for Eomer and Boromir can stay; the city of Edoras is a good deal like an Allthing city, albeit without the pond for drowning oathbreakers. It can stay. Maybe, in certain moods, Sir Ian can be Gandalf in my head. But mostly I get to keep my own mental version of Lord of the Rings, and for this I am grateful.

Sometimes we play casting games, who would play whom in the movie of our lives. So far we've managed to cast Kiefer Sutherland as Mark due to a (veryvery sad) dearth of bearded blond actors in Hollywood. (He's probably not bearded now, for all I could tell you. I'm thinking "The Three Musketeers" version.) And then we come to a screeching halt. We've occasionally gone totally ethnically inappropriate. I forget who we cast as Scott at one point, but his ancestors came from much, much further south than Scott's. There's just not enough good geekage in the movies, is what. And most of the books I read are about comparatively geeky people, so...I get to keep my visualizations. Yay.

I finished reading Abhorsen and enjoyed it muchly, will want to buy a copy at some point, etc. Also reread Ballet Shoes, as I remembered Christmas bits somewhere in it and then got caught up in it, and it was short, so that was all right. I'm despairing of having a passage from Doomsday Book, I really am. It's all Christmas bits, scattered throughout; I don't know how I would pick a particular scarf-and-bell-ringers scene. Hmmmmmmmm. I may put someone else on this detail, or I may plunge in heedlessly, or I may determine that Doomsday Book can wait this Christmas. Anyway, I started reading Kage Baker's Black Projects, White Knights, and so far I'm liking it. (Mark saw me reading it and said it was a good thing he hadn't bought it for me for Christmas, but it'd be a good thing to have around; I wouldn't have minded.)

So, my brain, my brain, my silly brain. Sigh. No, bigger than that: SIGH. I have been in something of a writing doldrums in the last quarter of this year. Things have not been going very well. I have felt frustrated, thwarted; I have not been happy with either quality or quantity of what I've been doing. Then Friday came the reluctant revelation that I'm writing The Mark of the Sea Serpent next. And then yesterday my brain let me work. On the Not The Moose Book. Does that make any sense? It does not The Mark of the Sea Serpent is set in an entirely different world, entirely different mythology, entirely different characters; it did not even give me any insight into the Not The Moose Book. And yet my brain, humming happily with the prospects of getting to do Sea Serpent next, sat down and rattled away at the Not The Moose and did better, smoother, more, and easier work on it than I've done since before we got here.

Um, hello in there? Brain? What are you doing? Is this your idea of a practical joke? It makes no sense. Don't get me wrong -- I'll take it. But it just doesn't make any sense to me. I have long had the sense that my brain needs to do books in a given order; I have not felt that I had a good deal of choice in which book I was writing next, and I'm grateful that the brain is letting me finish the Not The Moose Book before plunging into something else this time around. But -- but -- but -- I begin to sound like a motorboat. But this may be the first time that having the next project figured out was necessary. Hmmmm. Or it may have been the case with Reprogramming, too, and I just didn't notice. Anyway, it isn't even as though I thought I would be adrift when the Not The Moose was finished. I thought I would do the episodic novel. There were all kinds of good reasons to do the episodic novel. I can even list them off any time you like; they're still good reasons. One of them is even "I have great fun writing these stories." But apparently, these good reasons are not applicable. It's like finding good reasons to marry someone and then looking up and finding you just don't love them.

Only no, it's not like that; I'm not abandoning it, and I will be doing the episodic novel eventually. And I can come up with two good reasons why that eventually isn't now. The first is that the writing brain is stubborn and stupid. The second is that if I don't sit down and write all of Toni's stories now (these are the ones that go with "MacArthur Station" and "Glass Wind" and "Rest Stop"), I will have more of them to write later, when perhaps I will need them. Because these stories are good for me. I romp through them. Even when they're emotionally difficult, even when they drain me, they fly off my fingers. It's good to have something like that in reserve. It's good to have something for which I can just sit down and enjoy what I do.

And I'm enjoying the Not The Moose again, as of yesterday, and enjoying the anticipation of starting The Mark of the Sea Serpent. (Mark: "Am I the Mark of the Sea Serpent?" Me: "Silly Mark, it is too early for you. You are the Mark of the Mrissa, and I am not the sea serpent." I'm glad we got this settled.) It's good to enjoy work. Happiness: a good thing. This has been your public service announcement for the morning.

Okay, we're off for Grinch church, and Frankie's, and probably boots, and maybe other errands as well. Have a good Sunday.

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