July 2006

I was two thirds through the painting, when it occurred to me that my scanner cannot handle subtle blue.

Doubtless that is why I did the whole thing in a subtle blue scheme.

I don’t know whether to chalk that up to being absent-minded, or what. Is it masochism? Does my brain secretly want to sneak off and join a flagellant order? (Tiny bands of brains in backless robes, roaming the countryside, chanting, occasionally whipping themselves. The end times are near. Repent! Repent for the sins of the brains!) Or is it another expression of that optimism that grows perennially at the bottom of my soul–sure, the last FIFTY times the scanner ate blue, but maybe this time…?

It’s a hardy weed, that optimism. It’s rarely watered, badly gnawed by the Rabbits of Generalized Despair, and occasionally, for no apparent reason, large rocks fall on it from out of the sky. And yet, it continues to grow, a tiny green thing sending out runners, wearing a jaunty little hat on top of its stem, and generally irritating the living daylights out’ve everything around it.

I will go back to trying to flood it out with coffee, while secretly hoping that this time it’s right about the scanner.

I am easily distractable.

Example: the following chain of mental events, as I was looking at some neat sketch-to-painting examples of Magic cards.

Brain: Neat! Neat! Eh, serviceable. Neat! Ooo. Eh, the sketch was better. Neat!

Body: My arm hurts.

Brain: Suck it up.

Body: *wiggle*

Brain: And now, back to the art! Neat! Neat! Hey, let’s check the e-mail. Spam! Spam! Neat! Spam! Eh…

Body: My side hurts.

Brain: Whiner.

Body: Now my arm AND my side hurts.

Brain: Why?

Body: Possibly the fact we’ve been sitting with an opaque projector tucked under our arm for the last half hour?

Brain: Oh, that. I was going to change the bulb so I could work on that painting.

Body: Do you think we could maybe set it down until we’re done on the computer? It’s hard plastic and it’s poking me.

Brain: If we set it down, we have to admit we were fooling on the computer instead of working. The projector stays!

Body: *sigh*


I have done a sketch. It is a neat sketch. It’s a woman with an Elizabethan collar and an egg and a bunch of chickens.

I am staring at it and I cannot shake the feeling that it looks like something I’ve seen somewhere.

I am not talking about the nagging exasperation that many artists feel when people tell them that something looks just like (insert other thing that it usually doesn’t look much like here) which is one of the frustrations you learn to deal with. It’s generally just the way that people make conversation, not a thinly veiled accusation of copyright infringement. If you mention the roses in your garden, and somebody says “Ooh! My grandmother used to grow those, I loved them!” it does not mean that they are implying you slunk into Grandma’s garden at night with a shovel. People mean well.

No, this is the itch I’ve gotten now and again that this is some well known thing that I should know at once, but I’m blanking on it because the act of sketching blotted it out of my brain.

Asking people this is dangerous. They tend to tell you. If it was in Labyrinth, god, I don’t want to know. But–does anybody recognize this EXACT thing?

I will almost certainly paint it anyway. And yes, I usually DO have faith in my own originality, believe me. This is not a symptom of some terror that I am a derivative hack. But the nagging is so much worse on this one, I have to ask.


I appreciate y’all putting up with my lunacy, guys.

I have in my hands a shiny new advance copy of Digger 2, which will be debuting at ComicCon, and which should be available on-line not long after.


I’ve been blogging less for the past week or so. I suspect this is because I am diligently hammering out my 1K a day on this story, so when the writing bug bites, I have someplace to put it. On the other hand, it’s also been a largely uneventful week here–the hottest part of summer has slowed the garden’s headlong rush, the squirrels are panting in the shade, too hot to be defective, and all the cool stuff that HAS happened, I can’t really talk about yet, for fear of the jinx of death, although hopefully that will soon change.

I’ve been arting less, too, which is understandable, since I’m still in post-Con recharge mode, and I’m not strapped for money this month, so other than the usual Digger, I have no pressing reason to crank out art. If the brain’s still tired, I’m not gonna force it.

I am starting to get painting guilt, though.

Thing is, between Digger and writing at least 1K words a day, I am arguably continuing to be productive. Prints go out as often as ever. I did a Little Creature story last week, fer cryin’ out loud! And yet…the painting guilt.

This makes me realize a horrible thing.

If you choose to pursue two forms of artistic endeavor, you don’t just have generalized art guilt. No, you have guilt for each specific form. If I write, I worry that I’m not painting. If I paint, I suspect I will worry that I’m not writing.

I could make the bestseller list and win a Pulitzer, and as I walked up to accept, a nagging voice in my brain would go “Hey, shouldn’t you be painting? We haven’t painted in awhile now. What are you doing that’s supposedly more important than painting, huh? Huh?”

And god help me if I actually sell Nurk’s story. I could just about weasel “Black Dogs” under the radar as a one-time fluke, a madness of my youth, but if Nurk DOES sell, the words “three-book contract” have been flung around*, and that means I’ll have to admit I could, y’know, be something resembling a writer…which will seal my fate forever. I will never again lift a paintbrush without some other part of my brain going “Hey, shouldn’t we be writing?”

*Not by me, but by my agent. According to Deb, this is to be expected–editors want relationships, not one-night stands, and would love to get a trilogy out of you at the slightest provocation. If it’ll sell once, the thinking apparently goes, it’ll sell three times. This explains something that I’d wondered for years, which might best translate as “Doesn’t anybody write a stand-alone story any more?!”

I expressed my concern at producing two more stories on demand to my friend Kathy, who said something to the effect of “You? You’ll panic and wibble and then drop a whole book behind you like a skink dropping its tail to throw off the predators.” Some people know me WAY too well. Then I went and worked out the plot to Nurk 2: Electric Bugaloo, and it was all good.

I have been noodling around with this goblin idea lately. I don’t know if it’ll turn out to be anything anybody will have any interest in, but it’s keeping me somewhat amused. And when you do anything with a fantasy setting, sooner or later, you usually have to figure out how magic works.

I have grumbled about this any number of times, and I will spare you the full rant. Magic is, so far, not a central point of this story (although that may change) but I wanted to keep it unpredictable. This came to me last night in a flash of inspiration, and I’ll inflict an excerpt on you, because I thought it was entertaining.

Naturally, somebody will now point out the ten other books that used this same principle, and I will cry, because even when we think we’re being wildly creative, there’s nothing new under the sun…
Read more

Filled in the bare patches with anise hyssop, a native that grows in nice, spiky columns. The bees love it. Also picked up a butterfly bush–I had wanted one, I had planted one, and it turned out the bloody thing was mis-labeled at the nursery, and it was instead a “bluebeard.” It’s a nice little shrub, but not what I wanted! I’ll pop it into a big pot, maybe, or into a bare patch of the bed, it’s got fairly good foliage, and put the butterfly bush in that corner.

It was here for maybe thirty minutes, and I caught a tiger swallowtail on it. I am gleeful.

To distract myself from the madness that I fear to jinx, it’s time for the garden report!

Yesterday, I took out a big swath of plants–I hadn’t been sure if they were weeds or not, but they’re spread everywhere, and they don’t flower, which meets the Ursula Standard, and furthermore, they were home to a bunch of Japanese beetles. Blargh.

Now I need replacements–these were the tallest thing in the garden–so I’m going out later today to the garden center. I’m hoping for Carolina phlox, which they had before, but I’ll settle for yarrow happily enough. And maybe more brown-eyed susans. The coreopsis is not doing well, for some reason–too dry? too wet? who can tell?–but the brown-eyed susans are fabulous.

The glads are doing the typical glad thing–they’re blooming extravagantly, gloriously, and then falling over, so I’ve cut a few and brought them in. We have pink ruffly white, and vibrant red. They’re pretty spectacular, and they last a good long time in the vase.

The purple coneflower is going loony. It’s a kind of triple threat–there was the stuff I bought and the stuff that it turned out the previous owner had planted, and the stuff I liberated from the garden next door, resulting in a seriously echinacea heavy garden. Not that I’m complaining! I love that stuff.

There are also petunias. Why are there petunias? I did not plant petunias. And yet there they are, the pale purple with veiny purple centers, petunias. They’re an annual, but perhaps the seeds were dormant for quite a long time. I’m not complaining, I don’t mind them, it was just a surprise.

In the backyard, the hostas have long purple spires, the American beautyberry is flowering, and the Rose of Sharon hedge is rose-of-sharoning. The color has not grown on me, but I can’t complain. The ferns have exploded. It’s like a jungle. The jewelweed has survived nicely, the foxglove has not. Que sera, sera.

Everywhere, pollinators. I am delighted to see them. Although the hummingbird is still a rare visitor, the goldfinches are out every day, and enormous fat bumblebees, and thin, narrow-waisted wasps. It’s like a benediction to see them–“You’re doing things right. This is how it should be.” Even though I know pollinators like plenty of non-natives and are pretty indiscriminate, at least they’re there, and alive, and that’s something wonderful.

Um. Dude. Whoa.

There is suddenly a chance I may be going to ComicCon–my agent is looking into flying me out there, since Nurk is…err…well no jinxing, there, but–dude–and Digger is…err…holy bunnies…I don’t even dare THINK about that–and–um–uh–

Well, anyway, she’d be buying the plane ticket, if it’s not brutally expensive, but she probably can’t get me a hotel room at this late date. So, now I throw myself on the mercy of the blog–are any of you going to ComicCon? Would anyone like a roommate who will sleep on the floor and shower regularly and not eat very much and pay for their chunk of the room? I would likely be arriving Thursday night and leaving Sunday.


It’s Friday. How odd.

My brain doesn’t know how to handle this vacation thing. It did as much as possible, and now it’s staring off into the middle distance, going “Errr…should we…y’know… be DOING something?”

I have vacation guilt. I am trying to let the ol’ brain settle before whipping it back into art mode–cons are rough on it, and burnout is a real danger through this stretch–but mostly I stare into space and go “Man, I am accomplishing NOTHING.” Then I feel guilty.

I did write nearly 4K words today on this story I’ve been kicking around. I’m trying to do a thousand a day, just to see if I can get anything out of it–a thousand’s not too much, between blog and forum posts I probably do that daily anyway–so that’s something, anyway.

Maybe I need a new video game.

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