Wednesday, November 30, 2005

More Dumb Things To Do

Last night I dreamed again that I owned that white horse that was for sale last month.

In the dream, I had to get somewhere fast, and I put a bridle on him and rode off, bareback.

Today I suggested to a friend of hers that I would buy him for $400. That's stupid, because I don't have the cash influx to pay for his board. All I've got is that asking price.

I'm sure when she hears my offer, she'll call me a f---ing b--ch. That's okay. I'd rather she despise me for a valid offer than have her think me a fool to buy a 20-year-old horse for $3000.

I shouldn't even have made the offer, but I couldn't resist.

In the meantime, Advent continues. Day One, Cartoon. Day Two, I helped Alex put up a counter-cultural lighting display. Day Three, I made a new pork dish at lunchtime and a pumpkin pie tonight. I'm good to go.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Season of Reflection

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent.

The four weeks of Advent are set aside to prepare oneself for the future, for the celebration of the birth of the Christ, for the end of one's own life, and for the end of the world.

The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year (the religious year for Catholic Christians) and so Advent is a time to start over again, trying to find some progress in one's spiritual life.

I'm trying to complete one creative task a day before I plow into bed to sleep. Tonight I actually finished a cartoon. (Ahead of the Press deadline???)It's a small start. But it's a beginning, nevertheless.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Horses and Manners Revisited

Remember Rusty, my friend's horse who needed to learn some manners? (See "Learning Manners with Mr. Stud Chain" and "Shoving Horses")

Yesterday evening my friend and I set off for a two-hour ride through orchard roads. It didn't start out as a two hour ride, but we were curious as to why one block of orchard was being taken out, so we rode off down that stretch of road, and then we realized that we hadn't been in that neighborhood for almost a year and so decided to check it out, but after traveling down that road a ways, spotted some heavy machinery spraying fungicide/insecticide/fertilizer (stuff I didn't care to breathe) and had to take a detour ... we were wandering, mostly.

And we could, because Rusty was The Perfect Gentleman. The gentle bit, the tie-down to keep him from throwing his head in the air, the ground work -- all those things convinced him that he didn't have to make the decisions for him and his rider. Relieved of the burden of decision-making, he relaxed, and became once again the fantastic trail horse he used to be.

The ride was wonderful. We were out a bit later than I cared to be, but it wasn't quite dark when we got back to the ranch. We saw big hawks and little hawks, big dogs and little dogs, and talked about Life, the Universe, and Horses. We felt the sun's heat as we started and the chill at dusk when the fog began to rise.

Well mannered horses, and a big open sky.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Reflections on Dreams

If there was anything that convinced me that yesterday's decision to bail out of NaNoWriMo was a good one, it was my dreams last night.

I dreamt that Bernie and I went to visit a (faceless) fellow NaNo-er, but during the visit, the spouse of the NaNo-er made unwelcome advances to me. Disgusted, I grabbed my purse and we left the household. Upon return home, I was greeted by a neighbor, who invited me to enter his house and meet his new lover. I did so, and was amazed to see that the house had been transformed into a studio, with hundreds of wonderful art projects. "Now, that's what being an artist is about," I thought as I passed the work tables where the art-in-progress was set out. I met the lover, who was timid about touching my hand. But the greeting was friendly, and I asked permission to wander around the room looking at the beautiful creations.

All symbols in a dream are the dreamer.

Something about NaNo this year was unwelcome. Was it the hurry? The deadline? The repeated boasts and vows and aspirations by fellow NaNovelists to publish a NaNovel conventionally? I don't know. I just know that I was uncomfortable in their forums, and didn't really want to tell more about myself than absolutely necessary. And so I went back to my own routine. And met once again my timid creative self, and felt a renewed desire to make some art come into existence.

Yeah, this year is for that.

And loser though I may be at NaNoWriMo, all five of the cartoons I submitted to the paper were bought. The editor of the newspaper likes my stuff.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

NaNoWriMo Blues

I bailed from National Novel Writing Month today.

When today dawned, I was about 15,000 words behind where I ought to be in order to make the 50k word count by the end of the month. My dog needed a run. My horse needed exercising. Lunch had to be made. I had to go to the store or else we wouldn't have lunch. I needed to write a letter to my mother. I looked at what I had written the night before and was ashamed of how downright shitty the writing was.

I know that NaNoWriMo's motto is "No Plot? No Problem!" and back in 2001, writing my first novel was a joy, even though about 40% of it had to be scrapped later. It was my first effort at writing a story, and I loved my pieced-together heap of words like it was a cuddly rag doll. However, over the next year of trying to edit the heap (and leaving editing by the wayside because it was so depressing) and then being invited to write a weekly piece for the Piker Press, I learned so much about writing that when NaNo rolled around the next year, I finished my project in 21 days. The next two years' NaNovels took 25 - 27 days.

This year, I was reluctant to start. I had three ideas for a book, and just before it was time to start, found a fourth. I started one, paused for a short story, fretted that I wasn't doing justice to the book I wanted to write, switched to another idea. That idea quickly turned into a quagmire of stupid, repetitive paragraphs and pointless digressions. I spent more than 2000 words describing stairwells.

Now that could be a great word-count-padding exercise. But is padding word count how I really want to be spending my evening writing time?

So I bagged on NaNoWriMo, and instead wrote the letter I owed my mother. If I wanted to cheat, I could have added it to the novel and made the day's word count. I could have added this entry to the word count, and the posts I made on various forums, too. But that's not writing a novel, that's just word count. The scenario I had ended up writing for NaNo was word count, nothing more. Not. Acceptable.

Maybe next year I'll have a story to tell.

Or not.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Suddenly Cartoonist

Something has changed.

By my own standards for NaNoWriMo, I should have 18,000 words written by the end of today. Folks, it ain't gonna happen. I'll continue to write throughout the month, and work on that "writing habit" kind of thing, but 50k? I think that's a pipe dream at this point.

Part of it is still the back injury thing from this past spring. I am getting better; I can ride my horse again. However, a twenty-minute workout in the arena or a two-hour trail ride out just wrecks me for about three days. Three days = 6000 words. For the horse's health, and my sanity, I can't stop riding. But there's also laundry to be done, and garden maintenance, and exercising the dog. That leaves a golden couple hours in the evening, as long as I don't have to cook, or prepare for the next day. Or draw a cartoon.


Yesterday, the editor of the Piker Press was talking to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him her Fever Dreams Weekly Planner. My dear editor promptly sold me down the river and thus I shall be print-published in a matter of days. For cash.

Conventionally published.

For money.

I have no interest in syndication; Watterson's struggle with commercial publication was instructional in how to resist becoming a whore artist. I miss Calvin and Hobbes very much, but I adamantly agree that just because one is published and popular is no reason to cheapen one's art.

The other instructional artist I refer to is Jim Davis. I'm old enough to remember the early days of Garfield -- it was a great comic for people with cats. What his cartoon has become is embarrassing to look at, and I don't, won't look at it, like I won't look at mutilated bodies as I pass a traffic accident. Maybe he makes a lot of money with it, but the original idea has been lost, the unique artwork has been lost. If he's not embarrassed with his current work, I'd be surprised.

Anyway, art. Apparently some of my cartoons are going to be sold. It will be interesting to see them in paper print.

Time to adopt a new pseudonym so that no one eggs my house?

Monday, November 07, 2005

I can't believe so much time has passed since my last entry.

Blame NaNoWriMo. I had gotten out of the habit of writing "stuff" every day. I wrote to match the wind in the hideously stinksome "Angel Trumpet Vine" my neighbor planted: in other words, if that damned vine was pouring out its noxious fat lady's perfume, I couldn't write a word other than repeated, "Peeeeooooouuuu!"

In attempting to NaNo, I am forced to attempt a minimum word count per day. Gahhhhh. Re-forging a 2k a day habit is mental cruelty.

But even a few days of NaNo got me straightened around so that I could sit down and write "Out in the Cold" for the Press in one sitting. Yeah. That's the way it's supposed to work.