Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The End of January 2018

I can't diagnose exactly why, but this has been a rough month for me.

It's been cold here, but that doesn't usually bother me. I like cold, mostly. But not this month.

I'm teaching a new class. It's not a very "teachy" class, in that the students run it and I just supervise and deal with any administrative details they need help with. But I hate admin work, so.

Also this class is on Mondays, when I usually have a T-Th teaching schedule, so it's disrupted my schedule. All I want out of life is one day after the next with nothing planned. And yet.

Also Jury Duty, which even though I haven't had to report often is still -- also -- disrupting my schedule. I never know, from one week to the next, if I'll have to report or not. Apparently I have a deep need to know what I'll be doing.

Also I'm having trouble writing. I finished the novel, and starting something new is giving me trouble. That problem is not helped by the disruptions in my schedule.

This last is probably the biggest source of all this angst. I'm always moody and cranky when I can't write.

Friday, January 26, 2018

What I'm Reading in 2018 (so far)

Willa Cather, Song of the Lark, O Pioneers, My Antonia, The Professor's House

What has prompted me to begin reading the entire works of Willa Cather, I cannot tell you. I started with Song of the Lark, and have been moving steadily through them since. Death Comes for the Archbishop is next.

Right now I am ambivalent about Cather. She's a wonderful writer, line by line. There's always a spot, ten or twenty pages into one of her books, when I think to myself, Wow. Some line, or some scene, just knocks me over.

On the other hand, in every book I've read so far, she just can't stick the ending. About a fifth of the way from the end of each book -- every time -- she takes a bizarre wrong turn, and chases it to its end, and then the book just quits. In The Professor's House, for instance, she creates an intricate world that deals with a history professor and his two daughters and their husbands. The oldest daughter was engaged to one of his students, a brilliant young man who died in the First World War. He left the daughter control of his research, and her new husband develops it and makes a ton of money from it. Frustrations and conflict abound, due to the wealth of the oldest daughter and the relative poverty of the second. The professor is not much help. He's also badly matched in his marriage -- he's a scholar, she's a flirty hausfrau.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Ursula Le Guin Has Died

Ursula Le Guin has just died. This is such sad news.

She was 88 years old, and she was writing and creating all the way to the end, but I am still heartbroken. One of my favorite writers, and one that has had enormous influence on me.

If you haven't read her, start with Lathe of Heaven, or The Dispossessed, or her collecting The Birthday of the World. Her short novel The Word for World is Forest is also wonderful.

If you have read her, a massive re-read is in order.

I'll be over here, mourning deeply.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Semester Has Begun

I've had a relatively light semester so far -- two classes on Tuesday, three on Thursday, and only a tiny one-hour class on Mondays. Only one Comp class also, which really lightens the workload. (27 comp students instead of 81, which is what I had last semester.)

I'm enjoying teaching grammar the most, obviously, though I met with my fiction writers for the first time last night and the class looks promising.

The Kid is taking WLIT up at their university. I'm having a great deal of vicarious fun via that avenue -- what they're reading, how they like it. WLIT is my jam. Right now they're reading Giglamesh.

Jury duty has been more annoying than troublesome, so far. I've only had to report once, but the reporting dates keep changing, so I never know when I might have to miss class, or if. This makes planning ahead difficult.

Also Dr. Skull needs dental work, the sort that they knock you out for, so I'll have to go with him. More planning, more interruptions.

All of this is making it difficult to write. (My real complaint.) But maybe things will settle down soon.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Jury Duty, New Semester, Laundry

The year so far:

Jury Duty: I have jury duty. Here in Arkansas, that means I have jury duty for four months. Every week, I have to check a website and see if "my" case is going to court or not. (My case is the one my jury panel is serving that week.) If it is, I have to report in at nine a.m. the next day, me and about sixty other people. Then 24 of us are selected at random. If the 12 jurors are chosen from those 24, the rest of us get to go home. So far I've had to report one week and been sent home the other week.