Lone Wolves and Cuddly Puppies 16-24
To be clear, sometimes I don’t hate winter.
That may be hard to believe, if you follow me on any social media. It’s cold and dry, my hands are cracked and my hair is frizz. It’s sort of a toss up whether or not my car will start every morning and when the snow plow goes by work, I get to practice my tunneling skills. I don’t partake in many winter sports and those that I do, well…sometimes I just know I’ll be happier on my couch with a mug of hot cider and a good book.
What was I saying? Oh yes, sometimes, I don’t hate winter. I went snowmobiling this weekend for the first time this year and—I have to say—it’s a blast. The lakes make me feel like I’m a pod racer from Star Wars. The trails are like navigating on a flying broomstick (I’d be a Chaser, I’m sure). And when I hop off the sled and step off of the trail, it’s like I’m swimming in four feet of snow. Which I am.
It was fun. And it was the kind of fun that I could only have in winter. Or when I’m trying out for the Quidditch team. Or kicking Anakin’s skinny butt in a galaxy far, far away.
So much of our lives are just what we make of them. It’s cold here today, about -17 Fahrenheit when I was driving to work, and it’s not looking like it’s going to be getting any warmer anytime fast. So I can either gripe about the cold and glower at the snow (currently piled over my living room window) or I can go out there, put my snowboots on, and go swimming through the trees.
When I say it like that, I’m less irritated about how I spent this Saturday wade-hiking through four feet of snow. I was swimming. In a magical, white-cloaked forest. Narnia, friends.
Just SUNDAY. The ice cream and the day. They’re just exceptionally SUNDAY. And you know exactly what I mean when I say that this SUNDAY was quiet. Maybe there was a book. Maybe there was some tea. Maybe I cuddled my dog and napped on my couch.
And maybe—just maybe—I got some serious editing done. Except that I didn’t. No, this SUNDAY I went snowmobiling, because I just didn’t get enough SATURDAY.
Even so, SUNDAY is a different kind of fun than SATURDAY. It’s a mindset. Even when I worked retail and spent most of my weekends selling winter coats to folks, I knew SUNDAY was SUNDAY and SATURDAY was SATURDAY and that was all there was to know.
For instance, I just realized that I spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the different days of the week in my blog. And isn’t that just a SUNDAY kind of thought?
Some of us would rather,
Unhinge from the matter,
No one cares what day it is,
Don’t prattle like a hatter,
Altogether they’re the same,
Yesterday is tomorrow’s.
And I filled up half a page with that nonsense. You’re welcome.
Let’s talk about books.
I am not happy if I am not reading a good book. I mean, not actively reading. What a sad world that would be. Like, if I pulled my nose out of the book long enough for a sandwich, I’d be just a pile of lonely sludge (though, let’s be honest, there are some books where this is true).
No, I’m not happy unless I’m in the process of reading a good book.
And it can’t be just any book. If it’s poorly written, I’m not happy. If the story is sexist/racist/or otherwise irritating, I’m not happy. If the characters are flat, if the women are frustrating, if the men are gallant dickwads—I’m super unhappy. And I’ve finally evolved far enough as a human to stop reading those books. Even if I’m halfway through, I kick the part of my brain that’s horrified by the prospect of not finishing something and I move on. Because even if I read every second for the rest of my life, I would never begin to scrape the surface of all the good books in the world.
And isn’t that just a wonderful thought?
Currently, I’m reading a really good book. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. It’s a fantastic new spin on an ancient story and I absolutely can’t put it down. Don’t want to put it down. Would rather spend the night with my dogger, cuddling the cat and sipping wine whilst reading than doing almost anything else. It’s probably one of my favorite feelings, that warm contentment that I have when I’m thoroughly in love with a story. I’m happy. My soul is happy. My dog and cat are happy that I’m hanging out on the same couch as them. The world is bright and beautiful and everything is new.
A page a day for a year is absolutely exhausting.
I don’t know how many of you have been keeping up, but at the start of 2019, I decided that it would be a fun challenge to write a page a day. It’s like the year is a story, I’m my own character, and I’m documenting my interactions with the world around me. Except that instead of the world around me, I’m interacting with my own brain and it’s turning into this rambling cluster of words that surely I’m the only one who enjoys.
And by enjoys, I mean keeps up with. Because frankly, a page a day is something of a chore. I don’t always want to write. I don’t always even want to write my books—and my books are my life. So writing about my life about my books in a blog is something of a hot mess, and if I had a lick of sense, I’d stop doing it. These are long posts that new readers probably don’t want to interact with.
EXCEPT I CAN’T BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE FAILING AND I NEVER FAIL.
That’s not true, of course. I fail all of the time. But I REFUSE to fail simply because I’m too lazy to do what needs to be done. I made a commitment and by the rusting, purple sky—I WILL fulfill it.
That said, I really need to keep up. A page a day is easy if I write a page a day. But, being human, I tend to write 7 pages every 7 days. Sometimes, it’s 14 pages every two weeks. And that’s ridiculous. It’s not fun to read, it’s not fun to write, and my notes are all blurred together with my thoughts and I don’t even know what I did those days.
Still, it’s an interesting experiment. And if I make it all the way to next winter, champagne for everyone.
I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek.
Rewatching TNG, experiencing Discovery, dabbling in the Original Series: I’m just reverting back to sophomore year of college, when I ‘studied’ quietly in my room and definitely didn’t spend that precious time learning how much I loved SciFi.
As a SciFi author, a lot of people assume that I inherently have always loved to read/watch SciFi. But for me, that’s just not the case. I loved Fantasy. I wrote Fantasy. And until a year and a half ago, I’d never even considered writing SciFi.
I always loved Star Wars. Star Trek was a learn-to-love-and-then-become-infatuated-with experience. The only SciFi novel I can truly say captured my heart is Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, but to be fair, I don’t read very much SciFi. I was thinking about this the other day, while listening to a pair of humans have the inevitable Star Trek/vs/Wars argument. I love them both. They’re different enough that I never really considered comparing them. That said, I think Star Trek is better. And the reason why is—incidentally—the same reason why I started writing Science Fiction in the first place: it’s a future.
And that future, as authors, is our own. With Star Trek, I think the idea of a United Federation of Planets is beautiful. There is peace, and we can put all of our efforts into exploration. There is no poverty on Earth. All races and sexes are considered equal.
Let’s set our eyes on the horizon; let’s sprint toward a better tomorrow.
I love video games.
That’s not quite the full truth, though. I love the design and story of new video games. Like Red Dead Redemption 1 and 2…but especially 2. Before the second one came out, I was going to replay the first. Never got around to it (full time job, writing, editing, designing…funny thing, there’s no more time in the day after all of that). After I finished 2—and yes, you can make time for the really important things in life—I revisited the notion of roaming around the first one.
Here’s the thing with graphics: the second something better comes out, the older ones are horrible. I mean, I remember when RDR first came out. I remember ooing and awing at the horses, the trees, the people. And now, it’s like I’m fumbling around on the Nintendo 64’s 007.
Now don’t get me wrong—I love the classics. Zelda, 007, Mario Party/Kart…the ole 64 had so very much to love. I play them to this day. But those graphics aren’t what make the games. They’re fun, they’re classic, and they serve their purpose. But with the newer games for the Xbox and PS4, it’s almost hard to go back and replay games with the out of date graphics.
Although, that’s not totally true for the multiplayer…like Halo Reach. I adore that game. I replay all of the time.
So what is my point? That Red Dead Redemption 2 is the best 1st person game I’ve ever played. That, and I don’t actually know what I’m talking about when it comes to video games. I just know what I like. And if that’s ever not enough for me, then I suppose I should put the controller down and read a book.
Tonight, we played Dungeons and Dragons.
I sent my campaign off to the Fae Realm, where they found a diseased forest and riddle-happy sorcerers who were corrupting it. The good: people seemed to have fun. The bad: they are far too clever and solved my riddles more quickly than anticipated. The ugly: since they solved the riddles quickly, there was almost no combat and therefore the campaign concluded about an hour before I anticipated.
So what’s a DM to do when her members are frolicking aimlessly through a corrupted forest with a mouthful of spells and a belly full of mead?
Seriously, what’s a DM to do?
I wrapped things up early, since I’d had a couple of meads myself and wasn’t feeling the creative powers flexing. But if I would have had the energy, perhaps I could have invented a side quest, sent them off through the enchanted forest to meet some non-corrupted Star Elves. Maybe there would have been fire, maybe there would have been shame. Maybe there would have just been more mead, and maybe we all would have been hungover the next day. Who’s to say?
I went swimming again.
To clarify, I went swimming in snow again. My dear friend—what did I call him on here? Jacob? Let’s go with Jacob.
My dear friend ‘Jacob’ and I went for a ‘hike’. And, since we are explorers at heart, we forged our own path. Here’s the thing with four feet of snow: it’s not forging a trail, it’s breaking one.
I would fall over and if the stars aligned, I would do so on a log. Otherwise, there were several minutes of frantic scrambling, trying to find some purchase for my hands that didn’t involve my face being buried in snow. And you know what?
It was a blast.
Seriously, if you ever want a good time, excellent exercise, and an all-around challenge, come up to Minnesota mid-February and break some trail. It’s more work than you think, less rewarding than promised, and will leave you soaked to your very bones.
Side note: don’t go too far. I won’t be held responsible for the death of a snow-swimming-adventurer.
When we managed to crawl home, Jacob set to playing Read Dead and I tapped away on my computer, editing like the responsible author I pretend to be.
Another week, gone.
It was—so far as weeks go—rather uneventful. It’s cold, of course. It’s winter, of course. Of course, I stayed inside quite a lot. There was a fire and some wine and more than a little Star Trek. I played video games. I ate ice cream. And, all told, I’m feeling pretty good about all of that.
It’s important for me to get away from humans, to spend several evenings a week with my dog and cat, a book or a game, some soft jazz, a hot bath, and a couple of glasses of wine. It’s how I stay healthy, how I maintain my writer’s lifestyle. I need that reset.
And I need my friends, too, of course. My support group, my beta readers and my family.
I love to hang out at a bar every now and then, sit there and get to know people who—before that moment—were perfect strangers. It’s probably one of my favorite social pastimes. In Ireland, I’d hang out at the local pub, sip a Guinness and read the paper. And, when someone would sit down beside me, I’d talk about whatever was happening in the village/country/world that day. It was wonderful. I met doctors and farmers and musicians, writers and lawyers and travelers. I met so many interesting humans, I don’t even know how to describe them all.
There’s a negative stigma about people who go and have a drink by themselves. Surely they’re lonely—surely they’re depressed or have a problem. But I believe that some people are simply happier on their own, taking the time to listen to their own stories, taking the chance of learning someone else’s.
So here’s to the fellow loners out there. Cheers.