raven: black and white street sign: "Hobbs Lane" (quatermass - hobbs end)
[personal profile] raven
I wrote a long post here about my job and then deleted it because - well, horrible indiscretion. Here, have some :

"Cheer up," my supervisor said. "I've got you a war crime!"

I read the papers on it today, and then wrote a dreary letter that began, I am unable to advise on the basis of the limited information provided...

Not to fret, said my cheery and very efficient contact in the department. I can get you all the information you need. Only - there's quite a lot - is it ok if I courier you a crate?

(Oh, God, oh God.)

I am not sure right now if I am feeling a little depressed or just sick at heart.

Er, things and stuff, in no particular order. I went to Nine Worlds! I helped run a track and I moderated a panel on worldbuilding in Star Trek ("All These Worlds Are Ours" - it was beautiful.) The convention was not as enjoyable as previous years for various reasons, but what was good about it was very good about it and I should make a proper post about that. Sometime.

Writing is a plague on me. I can't not. And when I try, I am completely overtaken by the feeling that my ability has long ago been outstripped by my ambition. I am trying to write 300 words a day of my novel and worrying that it's being infected by my state of mind. (It has a body count it didn't have six months ago.)

I have read a lot of good books recently. Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho (which I lliked); The Ghost Network by Catie Disabo (which I also liked, and which was so ridiculously relevant to my interests that it's possible it was written just for me); Space Hostages by Sophia McDougall (more delightful YA in space); nearly the entire series of Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters (love, love, love, though I have stopped after reading nine of them in a row because my prose is taking on a mediaeval quality); the four Hilary Tamar books, by Sarah Caudwell, which are convoluted murder mysteries related by a gender non-specific narrator and investigated by a group of queer, beautiful and hapless members of the Chancery Bar. They are probably among the most perfect things I have ever read. Here is a bit from the second book, The Shortest Way To Hades:

“You will be interested to hear, Hilary, that it [the drug] had a most remarkable effect — even on Selena after a very modest quantity. She cast off all conventional restraints and devoted herself without shame to the pleasure of the moment.“

I asked for particulars of this uncharacteristic conduct.

"She took from her handbag a paperback edition of Pride and Prejudice and sat on the sofa reading it, declining all offers of conversation.”

Now I am reading The Sparrow, on [personal profile] happydork's recommendation, and feeling rather comforted by it so far. Such elegance in despair.

There is a love meme, friends. Here is my thread. I can't blush in asking for love at this time.

on 2015-08-14 10:22 pm (UTC)
hannah: (Across the Universe - windowsill_)
Posted by [personal profile] hannah
That panel sounds fascinating, and I'd love to read everything you have to share.

on 2015-08-14 10:30 pm (UTC)
macadamanaity: M*A*S*H hand making peace sign (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] macadamanaity
The Sparrow is one of my favourite books that's ever destroyed me. There's a sequel that does it almost as well. And then there's Doc. And Dreamers of the Day which isn't as sad but kind of is, but is just wonderful. And A Thread of Grace. ANd.. look I really like Mary Doria Russell a lot okay?

on 2015-08-15 02:10 pm (UTC)
longwhitecoats: Lady Sif smiling (Sif)
Posted by [personal profile] longwhitecoats
Ah, you have convinced me at last to get the Ellis Peters Cadfael collection down from my shelf and read it! I've been saving it for a rainy day. It sounds wonderful.

on 2015-08-18 02:25 am (UTC)
isis: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] isis
Yay, another convert! I love this series so much!

on 2015-08-16 02:52 am (UTC)
pearwaldorf: (books - reading is sexy)
Posted by [personal profile] pearwaldorf
The Sparrow is such a beautiful, wonderfully human book that has stayed with me for years. I am, in fact, very suspicious of people who read it and do not come out a little in love with Emilio Sandoz (who, along with Oscar Romero, has given me a ridiculously high bar for Jesuits).

on 2015-08-18 02:26 am (UTC)
isis: (hugs)
Posted by [personal profile] isis
I don't do love memes, but I think you are a fantastic writer (both your fic and the original works you've shared) and what you've shared of your real life makes you sound both frighteningly intelligent and deeply human. ♥

on 2015-08-14 09:25 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] parrot-knight.livejournal.com
You are busy writing acclaimed short stories on top of a demanding job and have a novel on the go, let alone having a home life and activities such as con-track running - so your ability and ambition seem to be keeping pace with one another to me...

on 2015-08-16 06:07 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
Thank you, this is kind. :) Also, I'm sorry I never actually got to speak to you at NW! It was very nice to see you in the audiences for so much of the Trek content. however.

on 2015-08-16 07:18 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] parrot-knight.livejournal.com
Two or three sessions anyway- though my Trek is very rusty and it was good to catch up. Sorry not to have spoken to you - I was very run down for non-con reasons and missed the third day altogether.

on 2015-08-14 11:08 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mirabile-dictu.livejournal.com
Oh my god, Hilary Tamar! Are they not perfect? They make me laugh SO MUCH. I'm away at my mother's or I would quote all my favorite passages to you. Why are they not better known?

Have you read the Maisie Dobbs series?

Also, hi!

on 2015-08-16 05:56 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
They are! I love them sooooo. Also I ship Julia and Selena like MAD. They're clearly meant for each other, I am very committed to this theory.

I have not read the Maisie Dobbs series though it is on my list. And: hiiiii! how are you? x

on 2015-08-15 02:32 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] a-t-rain.livejournal.com
The Hilary Tamar books are so much fun! Why are there not more of them?

on 2015-08-16 05:55 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
I don't know! Possibly because she got to the point where she couldn't improve on perfection? Though they're pretty perfect to start, I started cackling like a loon at the first appearance of beautiful Ned from the Inland Revenue and it just got more delightful from there.

on 2015-08-15 04:57 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] littlered2.livejournal.com
A crate of war crimes-related material sounds like an extremely dispiriting thing. I hope it is all more bearable than it may seem.

I'm sorry Nine Worlds was not as enjoyable as it might have been, but go you for the track running and moderating!

"She took from her handbag a paperback edition of Pride and Prejudice and sat on the sofa reading it, declining all offers of conversation.”
Ha, perfection. (Have I ever mentioned one of my must-haves for if Rob and I ever get married? I am determined that the reception venue will have a room with comfy chairs and books and newspapers, and people can just go in there and not talk to anyone if that's what they feel like. It will be glorious.


on 2015-08-16 06:06 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
I hope so too, and we shall see when it lands on my desk tomorrow! I think you would very much like the Caudwell books, by the way - not only are they are delightful and hilarious and very much in the comfy-chair-and-solitude model, but good chunks of them are set at Inner Temple. :)

on 2015-08-15 05:25 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] troyswann.livejournal.com

You are the loveliest.

I do not for a moment believe that your ability has been outstripped by your ambition. Not for a moment. I think you've been working at such high levels of beauty and acuity for so long that the bar you set for yourself is stratospheric. Sometimes writing is just bricklaying, one sentence on top of another all held together with mortar and spit. But then you stand back from it and see what a beautiful edifice you've made, brick by brick.

Also: worrying that it's being infected by my state of mind.

This I can fully understand. When I'm exhausted, my characters are exhausted. When I'm in migraineland my characters experience synaesthetic, kaleidoscopic pain. The trick, I find, is to feel their feelings so that I can write them truly. How, I wonder, do I reverse the flow of feeling so I can be in their place?

But, there's a kind of authenticity in the idea that who we are appears in the works, which are themselves creatures of a time and a place. How can they be otherwise, if they are to be living things? It's possible that Shakespeare did indeed write "not for a day but for all time," but I suspect that he only was able to do that because he was also very much in the day he was in, and wrote into his plays and poems the sunshine and the rain and the guttering candles and the growling stomach of right now and right here.

So, I will say again: You are the loveliest.

on 2015-08-17 03:51 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
Hello, you. You are such a comfort to me always. Especially this:

Sometimes writing is just bricklaying, one sentence on top of another all held together with mortar and spit.

because this is exactly what it feels like to me right now, sentence after sentence, literally, one by one. And I feel like there's no life to it, but now I think there might be again soon.

wrote into his plays and poems the sunshine and the rain and the guttering candles and the growling stomach of right now and right here.

Oh, yes. How beautiful and true. I love you a lot.

on 2015-09-08 09:59 pm (UTC)
tau_sigma: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] tau_sigma
I think this is going to sound cliched, but I'm going to say it anyway - I think maybe your ability has to be outstripped by your ambition. Otherwise, why would you improve? Also, it says far better things about you than it would with those qualities reversed; also also, I think it's entirely possible that you don't realise how impressive and - to steal a word from another comment - stratospheric your ambitions are. <3

On your crate of war crime: oh god. Just, oh god. *hugs*

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