Wednesday, January 30, 2008

the sledgehammer of the obvious

Well, I've set my husband's leg in plaster, and started some gesso sottile with the remainder, and written a critique, so I'm about done for the day. He hasn't broken anything, (she said, vitiating any possible tension in the narrative) it's just the easiest way to send his leg to Montreal to have fitted greaves made.
Oh, yeah, the plaster has been removed from his leg, and it, not the leg, will travel to Montreal. Two packets of plaster bandage were required for one leg, knee to ankle. In case you were wanting to try this at home.
Plaster-caster jokes are not required at this point. Feel free to make them in your own blogs.

On not knowing what one has written: the bargain in the marsh, between Myl and the black thing, came into the story fairly late, having marinated in my brain for a week or so. I wrote it in my usual 'gee, I wonder what happens next' way (which may be painfully obvious to my overtried beta readers, sorry guys!).
Looking back I realised the following:
* a white and red 'bird' flies to Myl
* she conceals it in a round-bellied basket covered in clay
* she sits on the basket
* she endures fear and discomfort
* after longish discomfort she takes rapid action
* she takes the basket to the water
* a white thing like a small naked child slips out of the basket

Could this be more obvious? Could this be more of a prefiguring of giving birth? The soul comes to the mother, is contained in clay=flesh, the mother travails, pain, fear, water, a naked child? It's practically close-captioned and interlinear-glossed.
Yet I swear this interpretation did not occur to me until last week.

My dreams are of late also painfully obvious, but at least they're getting through to me much faster.
First, I have a brand new anxiety dream. I've mentioned before, I think, that I while I may dream of unexpected exams or public nakedness, those dreams don't make me anxious (public nakedness might make the general public anxious, but the general public has its own dreams and needs none of mine). Instead, my typical anxiety 'wake up twitching and groaning' dream is about trying to answer a question or explain something really vital (zombies attacking!) to someone and being ignored or talked over.
About 3 nights ago, I woke up moaning from this one: I was in a small dark room, and the floor was covered with things that I was packing. Skis, hiking boots, coats, books, lumpy parcels. I bent over and picked one up, then another, then more, stuffing them awkwardly in my arms, pinning them against me, and still they slipped out. I'd pick one up and another would fall down, and the floor never got clearer.
All the time, a woman with dark-framed glasses and straight dark hair cut in bangs (I can't think of anyone I know who fits this) was watching me impatiently and not offering to help.
Well, dreamworld, thank you for that life lesson. Why not just leave me directions on a post-it note? Don't take on too many responsibilities. Okay. Got it. Jeez.

Fortunately, my most recent dreams have gotten back to the wastepaper basket level of narrative they usually occupy, tossing high-recency-value motifs into a collage of standard themes.
Like the night after reading a disgruntled-over-bad-review post on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award forums, with someone's awful awful imagery about books being our children, not to be severed from our psychic loins without a scalpel (maybe it was the scalpel that was psychic and not the loins), which had something to do with reviews, but I'm not sure what.
This contributed towards a dream where I was enrolled in a writing workshop that was also a surrogacy clinic of sorts, and the workshopping was done in a setting very much like the language labs at UVic (the old ones), a room with rows of little booths equipped with screens and mikes, murmuring with voices slightly out of sync with each other. This murmuring of narratives by students produced fiction manifested as babies, all red and slick and grimacing, sometimes not quite complete.
I'll stop. But that still wasn't nearly as disturbing to me as an armful of packages that I kept dropping.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

apprentices: get it in writing

My thoughts on apprenticeship, let me show you them.

Warning: the following is very specifically SCA-related. If you're not familiar with (or interested in) historic re-enactment or re-creation, it may be somewhat baffling.

The Society for Creative Anachronism, as the name suggests, isn't really about history. One of the tag-lines is 'the Middle Ages, not as it was, but as it should have been', usually taken to mean 'without the plagues, pogroms, persecutions and general dirt, but with the ideals of chivalry, courtesy and honour, and fun.'
Sometimes it's an Arthurian dream come true. Sometimes it's the worst parts of high school.
Anyway, within the SCA I'm a Laurel of the Kingdom of An Tir. Laurels are theoretically like Knights, except for doing art-type stuff instead of fighting, and Pelicans are theoretically like Knights, except for doing service instead of fighting.
I use Knights as the model because they were established first. And I say 'theoretically like Knights' because Knights are the sexy ones, or rather the concept of knighthood is sexy. Individual knights may not bear out this concept. Knights can become Prince or King, which has all the fairy-tale / LOTR cachet possible (again, individual kings may not match model shown here).
Knights, naturally, take squires. Since Laurels and Pelicans were modelled on Knights, they should have something like squires to mentor and teach and encourage. Since Laurels, if you squint through one eye, are vaguely like Masters of a trade, their squire-equivalents are called apprentices. Pelicans' objects of mentorage are called proteges.
Side note: a good many medieval knights were bureaucrats and officers of state, so Pelicans are probably considerably closer to medieval knights than Knights are, but let's not get into that.
The ability to take apprentices and to be addressed as Mistress instead of My Lady were the things that reconciled me to becoming a Laurel. Otherwise, the main perk of Laurelness is the right to go to meetings where we discuss who else should be allowed into our meetings.
It's possible to do an extensive compare-and-contrast between the SCA and high school. I will only say that if the Knights are the jocks and the Ladies of the Noble Estate are the cheerleaders, then the SCA is a high school where people scheme and become bitter about not getting into the AV Club or the Yearbook Club.

Disclaimer, often said through gritted teeth: The laurel-apprentice relationship is a very personal and individual one.
Some model it closely on the knight-squire personal fealty model--I should mention that SCA fealty is rather more idealised and less negotiated and contractual than medieval fealty might be--others are more like business contracts, and some don't seem to be thought out at all.
Because I'm a geek and actually like history and research, not to mention having somewhat William-Morris-Socialist ideals, I favour a contract. A contract that allows for negotiation, re-negotiation, and ideally, recourse for either party should they be unsatisfied or feel there is breach of the contract.
Which means the contract should be specific about the important things. How long a term does it cover? What is expected from each party? How much contact between the parties, since the modern apprentice isn't likely to be sleeping on the master's shop-floor and opening the shutters in the morning. Without expectations made clear, it's impossible to tell whether the contract is being fulfilled.
Sometimes I twitch, hearing dramatic and fervent oaths sworn, and wondering if there's any substance behind them. One of the most dramatic apprenticeship ceremonies I've witnessed ended in a fizzled-out relationship, with the apprentice coerced into fulfilling the laurel's commitments while the laurel went off to have a nervous breakdown.
Knight-squire oaths tend to sound damn good, with promises to raise arms against enemies, defend to the death, and lots of mentions of honour. Which is appropriate for that kind of game.
But I'm portraying, mostly, a middle-class artisan. If one of my apprentices or servants needs defending, I'm not going to rummage through the longswords and rush out there. I'm going to hire a lawyer and call in some favours.
It lacks drama, I grant you.

What I believe I can do for my apprentices: I can teach them in certain crafts, but mostly I can help them research and improve their research. I can help them understand how to look at other's work and assess it. I can find resources for them, both people and materials. I can encourage them to display their work or enter it in competition as suits their temperament, and I can provide honest feedback to make that work more accurate and documentation more thorough. I can bring them into a loose network of people who care about research and accuracy and who have fun doing it. I can speak for them if they aren't being heard--at least as far as my own reputation and standing will take me.
What I won't do for my apprentices: allow them to claim the relationship as any sort of rank, such as signing themselves 'apprentice to Linnet'; bring their names up in Laurel council before other Laurels do.

Aspects of the SCA laurel-apprentice relationship that bother me (see gritted-teeth disclaimer above) are that first, there is no baseline minimum standard, and second, that there is no regulatory body.
A medieval apprentice whose master was not fulfilling the contract could complain to the guild (I have a transcript of one such complaint) but if an SCA laurel drops out of sight without warning, or uses an apprentice as unpaid general drudge, or never gets around to teaching anything, there is no recourse for the apprentice after the immediate measure of trying repeatedly to talk things over with the Laurel.
Sidenote: yes, the apprentice can be at fault, but it's considerably easier for the Laurel to drop an apprentice (it usually involves posting a note on the Laurel's email list) than for the apprentice to be heard at all.
A contract won't fix this situation. But if hopeful apprentices and Laurels talk about what they'd have in a contract, they would at least have thought about what they each wanted, and have the practice of talking about uncomfortable issues. Plus a little bit of heads-up on how well the other party handled talking about how things might go wrong.
Taking a longish road-trip with each other is a good indicator of how each handles stress, as well. I try to include that in the lead-up to formal apprenticeship.

Can I make this into a coherent bullet-point sort of thing?
* You should be able to talk to each other, including expressing disappointment or changed expectations.
* You should be able to at least tolerate the people associated with the other person, ideally to find those people interesting and helpful.
* You should be able to make a road-trip without the urge to leave the other person at a rest area.
* You should each be bringing in something that the other person values.
* You should be able to claim the other person with pleasure and pride.
* You should be able to admit the other person's faults without defensiveness or shame.

There's a first draft. I'll see whether it still looks rational after I've had dinner. And perhaps post a sample contract.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

these should see you out

is what my dentist said. A couple of days ago, while I was eating wasabi-flavoured rice crackers, I realised that a piece had fallen off one of my back teeth. A piece of the enamel, naturally. It seems likely that I swallowed it.
My dentist, who has a lovely Scottish accent, has been suggesting that while I am still employed and in possession of a dental plan, I should get my old fillings done over, in new and sturdier materials so that they will 'see me out'.
The matter-of-factness of this pleases me no end.
The difficulty so far is that the old fillings are proving durable. Even the tooth that I cracked during the Year of Clenching My Teeth is holding up. I've been gloomily expecting them to hold up doughtily until I hit 65, then fall out in sequence like something from a Warner Brothers cartoon.
So I'm feeling quite cheerful about this tooth. It didn't hurt, even when I had hot tea, and I've got a temporary crown (the phrase 'temporary crown' is rather resonant) which will be replaced in a week or two with a real crown. Perhaps of gold. I haven't asked.
My dentist told me of going in to have one crown done himself, and being told he needed another five. He was in the chair from 10 am to 5 pm. I'm not sure whether they broke for lunch. I hope his dentist did, anyways. You wouldn't want someone getting shaky towards the end.
This should see you out.
It's rather comforting.

Last week we were at the salmon-pink hotel in Surrey that we've so often driven past on our way to the Peace Arch crossing. The event was Twelfth Night, with some new king and queen being crowned, but more importantly, my wonderful apprentice Alicia becoming my ex-apprentice by being made a Laurel. Her ceremony was based on the oaths and ritual of becoming a freeman of an English trade guild. And went off tidily, with only a little glitch in the order of speeches.
Ex-apprentices Elisabeth and Sina were present, as was current apprentice Siobhan aka Lucy, and her twin Evangeline. Alis and Eileen weren't able to attend, which is sad, but I make them all promise that Real Life Will Come First, so I'm relieved they had their priorities straight.
Yes. Elisa, Eileen, Lucy, Alis, Alicia, Sina. The similarity in names has been noted. It was not intentional. Someday I'll yatter here about what I think the peer-apprentice relationship should be, but not until there's an actual expression of interest from somewhere.
The event was in Canada. I kept forgetting this, and would trot down the carpetted stairs to the lobby, thinking that I should find an ATM and get some US cash. Apparently my brain has classified hotels as things that exist only in the US.

With Sina and Gudrun, I drove to the Richmond IKEA to buy a new mattress.
It turned into an epic journey, which seems to be unavoidable for any trip to IKEA. This one, unlike the last, did not involve driving rain and wind or stalled vehicles on bridges, but did involve a wrong turn (it looked like the way into the parking lot, honest!) that led us round about the outside edge of the store, nearly close enough to touch, and then inexorably away, onto the freeway, and miles back on our tracks until we escaped onto the Steveston Highway.
The gas station we scrambled into must see a lot of this, for when Sina went to ask for directions, the fellow inside said 'Ikea?' before she'd finished speaking. We drove very cautiously back, not taking any freeways.
Right in the entry of the store was a display of a bed, offering to any buyers of any size latex mattress, a 'full size Hallingby bed frame' free. Huh.
After the usual meandering and staring, we found the beds, and I plumped myself down on each of the foam and each of the latex mattresses, finally picking a latex one. At the end of the row was another sign offering a free bed frame.
The mattress turned out to be in the other building, across the parking lot, and to require a printout and payment before claiming. The printout said nothing about a bed frame offer.
The checkout clerk knew nothing about a bed frame offer. She phoned. The offer didn't begin until the 17th. Oh. But the sign said it ended on the 14th.
I do get kind of spacy in malls and big-box stores, but not so much that time goes backwards. Stops, perhaps, but not reversing.
More phone calls. Us stepping out of the way so as not to be beaten with giant cardboard slabs by other customers. More phone calls. Sina going to check the sign, then talking to Customer Service. Me considering going back upstairs and getting a different printout. Gudrun getting ice-cream to sustain us. Eventually getting clearance to go and pick up the mattress at the building across the parking lot.
Where, it turned out, they had only the mattress and not the bed frame. That was in the building we'd just left. Sina pointing out that this wasn't really helpful, and since we'd been waiting almost 2 hours and did have a place we should be, could they bring it over to us? (She is very good at the kind but firm, where I usually find myself weakening. I felt sorry for the staff, because clearly they'd not been warned about the offer.)
Well, um, no, because the transaction would have to be done over so there'd be a record of the bed-frame being taken.
Back to the main store. Everyone was, I must say, helpful and conciliatory during this process, and I got a discount on the mattress, and IKEA meal vouchers.
The drive back to the hotel was thankfully uneventful. We had left about 3:30 and returned after 8:00 pm, I think.

The mattress is queen size and I'm pleased with it. New mattress, new flannelette sheets, and a new crown to my tooth. Renewal is a cheerful business.
The crown is the only thing I expect to see me out, though.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

things I can't write

But Mum was not the kind of person who listened when you told her things. So you ended up not telling her, and when Mum realised, she was hurt. And when Ivy was hurt, she shut you out completely.
Fire and Hemlock, Diana Wynne Jones.

I was reading Fire and Hemlock last year, sitting on the bus, and when I read that, I had to stop and catch my breath. It struck so exactly to the centre-point of the relationship I was struggling with at the time.
No change to what happened, in the end, but I gained some understanding of what was going on.
DWJ is good at human (and gryphon and so on) relationships, and writes manipulative people in a nastily convincing way. Particularly she does the inner workings of dysfunctional families well. Her own family seems to have been quite spectacularly dysfunctional, and Time of the Ghost looks to be nearly autobiographical. I found it a hard read. I kept wanting to call the child protection agencies for those girls.
I don't know whether I could write that sort of family with conviction.
I'm fairly sure I couldn't convincingly write an adult woman's interaction with her mother, because I have no direct experience. Even my adolescent interactions with my mother would probably look unconvincing, since I had very little conflict with her. It was mostly my peer group I hated and feared.
Not that we had a perfect relationship, because I was a self-centred, unhelpful and over-emotional child, but there wasn't a generation gap (in the parlance of the times) between us. We shared books and ideas and a sense of humour. If she had lived into my early adulthood, would we still have gotten along? I think so. We hadn't developed any of those mother-daughter routines that go nowhere and drive both parties to distraction, and if we hadn't by the time I was 16, it was probably safe.
I can't write landscape description either. I blame this on my shortsightedness. So I had better not attempt a story where a dysfunctional family squabbles in a landscape.

Rejection yet again: But a promising comment from Clarkesworld.


Thanks, but it's not for us. We found it mostly engaging and
well-written, but towards the end all the question-answer
exposition in the dialogue becomes a problem for the pacing.
More of the climbing boy himself than the tiny taste we get
at the end would probably help, and less meandering through
theories like this:

"Some of them is right for ghost-sweepin'. The doctor has some
poncey word which I don't recollect just now, Multiples or suchlike."

Since the idea of "multiple personalities" has become old hat
in genre fiction of all kinds, it would be more interesting to
stay far away from inviting the reader to compare Ned's
condition with it. Instead, if there must be speculation, it
should be particular to this setting in a way that expands the
differences between it and our own world. We also thought the
suggestion of a story at the end would be potentially even more
interesting; a piece about the climbing boys' attempts to form
a union would be something we'd like to read. In fact, should
you ever write a sequel to this, please feel free to send it
our way.
Ack. Why is everyone suggesting I write something else which I don't know if I can write?

Monday, January 7, 2008

The cat says, Write!

Or at least, sit at the laptop and make a lap for her. This morning I decided to get back into the routine, even though I'd only gotten up at 6:45 am (the sleeping in is getting ridiculous--Sunday I slept until 12:30 pm). I fired up the laptop and heated up a cup of tea, and as I came back with my tea I saw she was sitting in the window-seat, waiting for me to get the quilt ready for her.
Aww. I haven't been there for two months, and she remembered. Aww.
Didn't really get any writing done, but I opened up Tom's story and reacquainted myself with Tom and Nan and my version of Stuart-period English. Time to reread Greene on Cony-Catching, I think. And a good time to read Patricia Wrede's Snow White and Rose Red. She has the guts to use 2d person familiar in speech, but it probably helps to be Patricia Wrede and just be that good.
Snow White and Rose Red is a favourite fairy tale of mine. Little Brother and Little Sister being another, of course.... So I'm looking forward to indulging myself there.
I saw a copy of Fitcher's Brides at Munro's, also in the Fairy Tale series, but I didn't quite make up my mind to buy it. The premise, of Fitcher as a millennial evangelist during the revival fervour, is definitely inventive, but in skimming, I wasn't sure how well I'd get along with the style. I'll look again next time; it may have been my mood.

Little happy writey thing: One of the problems I had with draft two is that I had this piece of Midame's story, that clarified a great deal (I thought) about her motivations, but it was from her pov and happened 5 years before the beginning of the story. I'd chucked it into the trial scene pro-tem, but it didn't really fit, and I hadn't tried to make it fit. The problem is that Midame was the only one (alive) in the scene. It might have worked as a prologue, but yeah, there's that whole thing about prologues. So, as I was drowsing the other morning, thinking about getting out of bed, and about krylyr's comments, it occured to me--what if Midame wasn't the only one there? What if she had brought little Myl in? And why might she do that? Nothing good. More trauma, yay! And more clues, through confused child-memory, of what happened to the Fortunate Third.
I still have to restrain myself. Willow Knot should lie fallow for the rest of this month, really.

I've mentioned my deep gratitude to my beta-readers, but I was thinking recently that there was a quite separate joy I've had. The slightly (oh, more than slightly) incredulous joy of having people ask to read my work, just because they want to. Because they think they'll enjoy it, even when there's no immediate promise of crit-for-crit, or where they may be avid readers but not writers themselves.
I don't know. Is there anything more amazing than someone asking about your characters, what they did after that story ended, or liking or disliking them as if they were real people? Questions are much more fun than praise, because praise just finishes the conversation; all one can say is 'thank you'. The times when M-- and I talked story and characters were probably the best times of that friendship, at least for me.
The Scribblers thread has been a haven since, a place to moan about characters who do what they want and not what the plot needs, or whose motivations remain stunningly opaque; a place to bounce excitedly when one finds a work-around for a blocked bit of plot. Room 50 of course is my second online home, though less gossipy and more businesslike.

World's Fastest Rejection: I fixed up the file for Fold and emailed it to Tesseracts Twelve late Sunday night (yesterday, that would be), and got an autoresponse at 9:30 pm. Today I had an email just before 1 pm, saying:

Dear Barbara,
I liked quite a bit of this, but it didn't
grab me enough to use. I do hope to see
something else before the deadline.

best wishes,

Which is encouraging, I guess, if I only had a finished piece of specfic 10 to 20k in length lying about ready to send. Oh, yeah, and that's better than Fold.
Fluke is 12k, but it's broken in ways I don't yet know how to fix.
Crazing is 18k, but it's another 3-Day Contest entry, and the results won't be out until mid-month at best. I guess I could start fixing it up (haven't looked at the file since I printed it out and sent it off) with the idea of having it ready to submit as soon as I know it hasn't won the 3-Day (snort of laughter here).
Or, as Mark suggests, I could write something new in 3 days, the same way I produced Fold and Crazing. This is supportive of him, for certain values of supportive.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Twelfth night, ungreening, unemotional

The Christmas tradition I'm used to requires putting up the Christmas tree and other decorations on Christmas Eve, and taking them down on Twelfth Night. To take out the greenery before then invites bad luck. So this afternoon I'll be putting away decorations. Then more packing for the SCA Twelfth Night in Vancouver, where I'll see a third apprentice off into laurelness. I am very proud of all my apprenti.

Writey stuff: Crits of Willow Knot are coming back from my deeply-appreciated beta readers. Those who haven't sent yet, please don't take this as a hint or push! Because of entertaining cross-OS circs, I'm printing the comments out quite slowly, and I won't be sitting down and revising for at least another month. I've had my head so deep in the last 3d of the story for so long that I really need to establish distance before jumping back into it.
Some common threads showing up already. The plot is less incoherent than I feared, though clarification (and possibly simplification) is urgently needed, especially on the political side. Repetition and too much scenery in the first part, which I think is partly a result of the workshop one-chapter-at-a-time format, so that I was re-establishing the setting and the situation with each chapter. I also got obsessive about the drenched style of writing, expecting someone to pop up and say 'hey, what happened to all that evocative description you were doing?' when it would more likely be the reverse.
Footnote: C.S. Lewis allegedly groaned once when JRRT was reading his latest at an Inklings meeting, 'Not another f--ing elf!', and I started to feel that way about trees. It will probably be a relief to start pruning.
One repeat comment has me thinking. That I keep an emotional distance from the characters. I hadn't thought of it that way. I'm not a partisan of any of my characters, and I dislike it when I can tell that a writer is partisan (with exception always for Simon Templar because Charteris does it so damn well, and he does undercut Simon from time to time).
But I'm not sure I understand where my emotional distance lies, or whether it's a style or a fault. Is it a matter of mechanics, like 'filtering', where the writer tells us that the character 'could see', or 'saw' something, instead of showing us what he saw? Or is it something less easily pinned down? I'd describe Tanith Lee as having more emotional distance from her characters than, say, Barbara Hambly, but Lee also uses the authorial voice much of the time, talking to the reader directly, which I've assumed is because she's English.
Footnote: I wonder to what extent the insistence on 'show, don't tell' is North American rather than British or European?
But it's not as if I'm providing ironic commentary, or even commentary, on what's going on for the characters. I'm keeping a fairly close limited 3d, and trying to show emotions by actions rather than telling. Maybe I need more telling?

More personal stuff: Perhaps it's because I try to maintain a distance from my own emotions. I'm not a great fan of emotion, or of sincerity, both of which I've seen used as bludgeons and prybars. People who are 'in touch with their emotions' don't necessarily notice or respect other people's emotions, either because their own emotions are a full-time occupation, or because they can use their emotions to get what they want in a sort of passion-eat-passion world where the most emotive outshouts or outsulks the competition.
Those who encourage others to 'express their emotions' and 'get in touch with their feelings' often have fairly strict (though unspoken) guidelines for what those emotions should be, and are not pleased or welcoming when the wrong or unexpected emotions are expressed.
People who are sincere, or at least describe themselves as sincere, sometimes regard that sincerity as an excuse for what others might call rudeness or selfishness. (Remember that I'm old enough to have encountered 'gut-level communication' in my youth, which I would describe as communication unmediated by consideration.)
Generally I try to keep my emotions out of the way, and to consider how my actions or words will strike other people (obviously not something I always succeed in) or at least to not let my emotions affect my decisions.
I believe I'm perceived as reserved, which is kind of funny from inside, where I know myself to be a seething mass of resentment and vituperative anger. Oh, okay, you're grinning incredulously now, but just go back and read the unseasonal rage post, and consider the triviality of the cause, mm?

"Flora sighed. It was curious that people who lived what the novelists call a rich emotional life always seemed to be a bit slow on the uptake." Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbon.

So here's a request for a favour from my hypothetical readers, please and thank you. Can you recommend to me a book or author who puts the reader in close emotional touch with the characters, who doesn't have distance? For bonus thanks, any excerpt that shows how it's done.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

symbolically overweighted dates

There's a folk belief that whatever you spend New Year's doing is what you will do the rest of the year. There's empirical evidence that it isn't so, or a lot of people would be spending the year hungover and in their pyjamas. Oh, wait. At any rate, they'd be spending it sleeping in, which manifestly isn't the case.
I suppose I'd spend this year packing and on the road, which wouldn't be that surprising, even though I'm hoping to cut down the travelling.
Alicia, Halima and I were on the road before 9 am, leaving the Scribal Retreat behind and on our way to Port Angeles to take the Coho back to Victoria. We caught the 2pm sailing, and had about an hour to wander around the town, window-shopping. Which wouldn't be a bad way to spend some part of a year. I keep thinking it would be nice to spend a weekend or at least a day in Port Angeles, instead of an hour while waiting for a ferry or for my ride when most shops are closed. There must be bed&breakfast places.
That and the BC wine tour--things to plan for in the new year?

Resolutions: I don't make them, usually, because proverbially they're a setup for failure, and because I'm not a great believer in significant dates. Heck, I'm 50 now, and that doesn't seem to portend anything much, other than having maybe 20 years to go. There are things I would like to do during this year, but proclaiming that I will do them sounds like flicking Fate on the nose.
To get Willow Knot revised into submission-ready condition and submit it.
To write a first draft of The Cost of Silver.
To finish the Boxer Rebellion story and start submitting it.
To do the 3-Day Novel Contest again (reminder to self about the MPD plot).
To do Nanowrimo again, since I have a format already.
To finish painting the dancers wall-hanging.
To paint the view-through-door wall-hanging that's sketched out.
To reduce my SCA participation to events where I spend time with the apprenti and/or have been specifically asked to teach classes, preferably with my husband.
To visit England in the spring, ideally with both Chris and Mark, and link up with the UK Scribblers and with Lucia from VPX.
To have a weekend vacation with my husband unrelated to SCA events.
To clean out a quarter-to-half of the attic and store things so they can be found.
To watch the dvds and videos that I've bought in the last few years and haven't finished watching.

Promotions: Submissions for Viable Paradise 12 are open now, closing June 30 2008. If you write specfic, and can afford to get to Martha's Vineyard, you should apply. Seriously. It will very likely change your life. If you want to know how it changed mine, click on the viable paradise tag in the sidebar.
Changing your life is a good project for the new year. Even better than cleaning out the attic.