The best plaid lice of Men and Slans…
Or words to that effect… after what amounts too long of building with as much writing as I could manage (still quite a lot – two books have come out in that time) squeezed in the edges, we’re now in our home. So: as I have this totally unsupported belief that you should start your year as you plan to continue it, I thought I’d spend my birthday writing, and being glad I was not at sea as the weather was wild.
Only in the fashion of these plaid lice (a problem under the kilt, believe me) we had what my weather-station tells me was a ‘strong gale’ the night before. It turned extreme even for the roaring forties. Barbs had gone into the great city of Whitemark for some Scottish Country Dancing, and by the time that was over the gusts would have picked up her little car, and the likelihood of falling or fallen trees on the road was high. So she stayed in town and I did my best to prepare for what sounded like the roof (corrugated iron) flapping and possibly blowing away – if the entire structure didn’t follow suite. Actually, it was merely a piece of gutter and a down-pipe, both of which stayed up even if they moved a little from where they belong. Things can sound much worse than they are.
It took until about 3 AM to begin to settle, Barbs got home at 4.15 AM and… I thought my plans might shift to sleeping in slightly, as Barbs had the day off, and then doing some writing.
Plans… 6.45 AM, the phone rings. It’s a hunter-friend. He shot a feral pig last night. Do I want to help butcher it and get some pig? Now, really, my freezer is full of pig already. But… Island rules, turn down this sort invitation, and you won’t get the offer again. So actually my birthday was not spent writing, but butchering. By the time I was done with that… it was late, I was tired and sitting down at the computer (the basic requirement for this writing stuff, of which I have heard much) and about as productive as a politician’s promises.
So I sat down and tried to get my birthday present (a Kindle paperwhite) to work. Now, I bought Barbs one years ago, but I am happy ready on screen, and so read e-books on my computer screen. I looked at one of my own stories (BOLG, PI, THE BOLG AND THE BEAUTIFUL) – which I think I wrote in about 2012. I concluded rapidly: 1) I could do it better. It’s too dense (a fault I suffer from, but easier to see at a distance) with basically a book in a novella. 2) I am a sarcastic smartass (I would never have guessed), and of course terribly politically correct and never make fun of that. 3) One should always look at a book in the format you plan to sell most of it in. The fleurons I used to separate scenes, which looked good on my computer screen, are effectively invisible at Kindle size. The footnotes are at the end, not the foot of the page. This is awkward because I introduce a character and concept on page one (and explain that in footnotes) Now the fact that Mario-the-fairy** (**)doesn’t come up until the end – when it is no-longer relevant that Mario is a real fairy, one of the Sidhe, from Southern Ireland. He just self identifies as Italian. He’s a Trans-Geographist. We Cis-Geographists just don’t know how it feels to be born in the wrong country.
I was amused, if irritated by it being in the wrong place. I had forgotten writing that. I had no idea, back then, how fashionable this ‘trans’ thing would become. It was a satirical in-joke aimed at a friend who claims she feels she was born in the wrong country. She’s done her best to remedy that, and, with the fierce patriotism of the New American who fought hard for that, is more American than many Americans. She’s taken ‘fit in or f off’ to another level. Frankly, that’s a lot smarter than the delusion that a country will change to fit around you, your language and your culture – and a lot more pragmatic, seeing as wanting to be something else (be it American or Armenian) means you must have some reason for wanting the change. If you do just bring your old country and culture with you, chances are you bring the reason for wanting to move too. And odds are: your host country’s people are going to discover they liked those aspects of what you fled (but brought with you) as little as you do. It’s not a great way of making new friends or gaining a new home.
Of course, to some extent, no matter how you try, you do bring some bits of baggage. Accents are hard for older migrants, and food-habits are as hard to lose. The other thing you take with you is yourself. And nowhere does that show up as much as in your writing, if like me, you write for a living.
So: maybe it’s a good thing I live in interesting times, or generate them around myself.
It gives me something to write about.
The storm featured in today’s writing work. Not sure where the pig fits in.