I work with books & find all sorts of abandoned bookmarks between the pages, as I’ve posted before. I came into work last week & found this new abandoned marker from one of the many books we’d received. It’s hard not to imagine what books it has rested in or what the person who used it originally was looking for at Tattered Cover or what other details surround its journey from the West all the way to my little library in Virginia.
At the very least, I have to say that the quote was lovely enough to catch my attention & divert my thoughts for the rest of my shift. Good design, Tattered Cover, I hope you remain successful in connecting people with the words & thoughts of others.
3.5 instead of 4. Honestly, after my mixed feelings about Will Save the Galaxy for Food & the preceding hype for this book being “Yahtzee takes on SJWs,” I was a little reluctant to pick this one up. (Ended up compromising & checking it out from my library.) But I was pleasantly surprised. First, the plot of Differently Morphous seems like a natural extension of Croshaw’s game The Consuming Shadow & revisiting his version of cursed England felt like a way to get reacquainted with the things I like about his writing. Second, while there are certainly plenty of satirical jabs about the different facets of outrage culture, I think the thing that kept these moments from being hollow or mean was the consistent background idea that the world is a large, chaotic, ever-confusing place & every character was just trying to figure out how to best deal with it.
I even felt sympathetic for a character like Chris, the conspiracy-theory spouting loony, or even Nita, who is set-up to be the most sensitive character with the least amount of common sense or inquisitive ability regarding the Ancient Ones & their spooky manifestations. She’s out of her depth, but then really, they all are. And even with the running arguments between each of the character’s POVs, the only thing that any of them really have to hold onto are their experiences & the ways they’ve come up with to cope or have some measure of control over their lives which may not matter all that much in the cosmic scale of things. So, at the very least, I was glad to see that Croshaw found a way to humanize these characters, even if their characterization was thin sometimes. (Perhaps its the change in perspective? This is the first of his novels not written in first-person & the first to not have other characters “react” to the protagonist & his choices.)
Also, sorry Chzo Mythos fans, but I love Poacher so I was super-happy to see (a version of) the Badgers & Archibald come back.
So, I blogged before about how bookmarks could be lovely vacation memories. What I didn’t go into at the time is that my husband & I are also book tourists: we make it a point in our travels to track down the small indie bookstores hanging on to the changing times. As a result, we’ve collected quite a few bookmarks of places that we’ve been & bought something. Some of them are listed below. Up first are our Virginia bookmarks, where sadly many of these locations are now closed. Goodbye Read It Again, Book Bank, & Oakley’s, you were lovely places to spend a humid summer afternoon.
Next, we have bookmarks from North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, & other points south. The Captain’s Bookshelf was such a fittingly odd place for eccentric Asheville, while Mr. K’s never disappointed me, a fleeting visitor who always found something wonderful.
Finally, the last two pictures are bookmarks from my go-to places: Chop Suey Books & Riverby Books. These are my magic bookstores that always have something relevant to what I was looking for. Also Chop Suey has a super cute cat & Riverby has fantastic vintage movie posters. Go there!
That’s been a hard message to internalize. It’s been a busy month, with lots of changes in my family & professional life. The stress got to me particularly in the middle of the month, where I went for a few days of just feeling all my feelings. Part of this could have been hormones; part of this could have been panic from being disorganized in my plans. But yeah, I had a few nights were I vacillated between fear & weakness & decided effort to get stuff crossed off my list the next day.
I’m better now; I’m on the other (rewarding) side of a couple different goals & feeling really good about how I got through in a mostly healthy way. The thing about allowing yourself to dance on the edge of colliding forces in your life means you have to believe that at the end, no matter what happens, you’ll be ok. & there are still parts of my brain that devoutly believe that I am not & never will be ok. I’m working on it & the gap between what I know & what I feel is still shrinking. But this month, this month feels like a victory, because I had those bad days, I took care of myself, & at the end of April, this new self-belief has a good chance at sticking.
Here’s the main reason why I don’t think I’m suited to write a novel: I get bored.
It’s not that I don’t love my characters or that I struggle dearly-but-sometimes-happily with my premise. I have to make structure so things make sense because I’m telling other people about a world of ideas I’ve had in my head since I was 16. I know what’s going on; why the hell don’t you?
Oh yeah, because I haven’t told it to you.
Here’s an example of a scene I’m writing right now: a bunch of important characters are at a concert. Most of them do not know the other; two of them are psychic vampires who are on the prowl. The vampires are going to ensnare someone & go eat them away from the crowd, but they have to be sneaky doing it. Like a murder mystery, the concert ends and the remaining characters have to figure out what happened, who’s missing, & if they are safe. Sounds tense, right? Or at least full of opportunities to pump in action & suspicion?
The reality is that I have to present the clues to you without tipping my hand, but in a specific order so that the final revelation makes sense. I also have to have good revealing character moments through conversation, reaction, & choice. & it does get boring sometimes because it feels like fluffing a checklist. I can throw some narrative surprises in there to shake myself up & I can recognize that I’m actually a lot more comfortable now sitting with my characters & just letting them live their lives for a few moments.
But I still have to move story things from point A to point B & I just want to get to the good stuff, you guys. You know, all that stuff the stories you made up as a kid had: danger, dragons, suddenly being able to fly & win everything.
I know, it sounds incredibly immature & my boredom might even be a hint that I need to go back & rewrite the section. But, the basics still have to get written so I actually have something to edit. Can’t rewrite something that isn’t on the page. Sigh, I think I’m incredibly undisciplined. Here’s to getting better, right?