First of all thank you. I do feel somewhat better. Though honestly, I think part of it is this formless void of a semi-shutdown and social isolation routine.
As I said before, I’m an hermit. Mostly I live under a rock, writing novels. But–
But I used to go out, sometimes on a whim, to say the grocery store or Goodwill or the craft store because I was under the control of a Bright IdeaTM. I no longer do that. I really can’t wear masks. This is not just because I think — on an informed opinion from reading a lot of things, including the reason they’re not recommended during wild fires in CO, like the season five years ago that destroyed my health for four years — they’re ineffective and counter-productive. It’s because I’m a mostly controlled asthmatic. As in, I can go for months without needing the rescue inhaler. If I get an upper respiratory virus, or if we’re having a bad fire season, I’ll need it maybe once a day. OTOH if I wear a mask, the re-breathing of my own exhaled air, plus the high humidity will have me using a rescue inhaler several times a day. To be clear, that’s say 2 hours of wearing the mask for a doctor’s appointment results in days of needing the rescue inhaler all the time for a week or so.
It has other issues. My oxygen saturation is marginal at best, one of the reasons we’re considering going low altitude in a few years, so I don’t need to wear oxygen all the time as I age. But that’s something else.
Anyway, the on a whim “I’m not a prisoner in the house” trips to the store or the post office are not a thing anymore. I have and use visors. Weirdly restaurants are fine with this. But with stores I never know when they’ll call the manager in a panic to stop me. Seems to be on a whim. To make things worse — maybe that’s just my feeling — it seems to me everyone at the store is radiating fear and anger. So if I go out — and I have to do it at least once a week — I tend to wait till I’ve run out of almost everything, and then I go at odd hours, and rush through the store, like I’m on a scavenger hunt.
Even walking in the neighborhood — thanks to Paste Eating Polis wanting us to wear masks everywhere outside the house — is fraught. No, most of my neighbors aren’t stupid. Most of them aren’t masked, either. There was an incident with a lost puppy yesterday and we were all gathering to figure out whose she was with not a mask in sight. So, the neighborhood in terms of my street is sane. But outside my street…. while walking with younger son we met a woman walking her dog, with her two adorable kids running alongside. As I usually do, I prepared to pet the dog. And then she looked at us — yes, she and the poor children were wearing masks. I’m surprised the dog wasn’t. I mean, a papaya tested positive after all, which tells you everything you need to know about the tests — and scrambled away from us in a panic, to about 10 feet distance, while snarling at us. One encounter like that is enough to make me hesitate to walk for a week.
And then there was our “fun.”
Look, I’m an incredibly dorky person — yes, I know, you already knew I’m a writer — and even when we were young, cute, and had the money, neither of us ever had much interest in “the glamorous life.” Okay, part of this is our insistence in living within our means as much as possible and having no credit card debt. But still. We probably could have managed a couple of glamorous trips or at least semi-glamorous ones to the seaside. But out kids were “treated” to vacations in Denver, randomly because I had a search on when Embassy Suites had a sale. And it was Embassy Suites because we could have the kids in a separate room but only pay for one, and also because if we got up late enough (never a problem with kids. Though since we didn’t own a television at the time, they usually got up at around six am to watch cartoons, however getting them away from the cartoons took forever anyway) we could let the kids have an epic breakfast, which meant we skipped lunch and only had to pay for a meal a day. And during the day? Well, we did such daring stuff like hit the zoo and museums (memberships are good value) or go to Lakeside, the cheapest amusement park in Denver.
THAT was our big, expensive fun. Oh, we also, sometimes, took free tours of factories, or went for drives. Oh, and we looked for books in used bookstores (I remember spending two such weekends in pursuit of comic bookstores with bargain bins. We made younger son VERY happy.)
Again, as I said, that was when we had more money and were young and cute. Now? Well, we used to have dreams of shopping for cheap airfares and going to random cities for weekends of writing (or researching. It’s always good to have locations in your tool box) and meeting fans. That — sigh — might never be possible again.
BUT we had settled in a very nice pattern. I hate cleaning. Actually, no. I get bored cleaning. That can be solved with Great Courses and Audible. It’s still a lot of work, particularly as, having lived here 4 years, we’re still organizing, so cleaning comprises a lot of other stuff.
To reward myself for cleaning, whenever I cleaned the house (usually Fridays) we’d take the next day (or more usually half a day) and do fun stuff, like go to a lecture or exhibit, or the botanic gardens or the zoo, and usually out to eat.
This was not only time out of the house, when I could see people and assure my back brain that we were not outcasts on an ice floe and that depression wasn’t called for, but time we weren’t interrupted by cats or calls, and didn’t feel we needed to be doing anything else. I talked plots, he discussed his plans for music. That sort of thing.
Then there was church.
Anyway when we first locked down I thought “Whatever, I can not do this for two weeks. not the end of the world.” It’s far more than two weeks. Because Polis is dumber than most rocks, (or perhaps because he enjoys his stupid and pointless power) even the zoo and the botanic gardens, OUTSIDE, IN THE SUN require face diapers. Also, you have to book a week or so in advance, and frankly, we’re never that organized (Sometimes my cleaning is on Saturdays, and Dan’s jobs can have emergencies.) As for church, we’re allowed 10 people no matter how big the church, and again you have to book way in advance.
So I lost my reward system, but I also lost my anchor points. Sometimes — I did tell you I was dorky, right? — if I was having a bad week, I focused on that date afternoon with Dan and planned what I was going to wear, where we’d go, etc.
All that is gone.
To make things worse it’s been a year of repeated punches in the gut, a couple completely unexpected. And after a while, it gets to you, and you have no anchor.
Anyway, all this long explanation for why I hit a wall yesterday, and why it was hard to even think of writing.
And yes, it sounds like I’m whining about not being able to do fun things. I am. Whining is better than growling, which is what I feel like doing. Dorky though my rhythm of life was, it was mine, and I LIKED it. Yes, I’d be quiet about it if it were a necessity or if were doing anyone any good, and not simply part of a tactic to stoke fear, destroy the economy, and enable Paste Eating Polis to pose in front of his mirror in his Hugo Boss uniform. The pointlessness of it all, and telling me I should be willing to do it because my betters say is what causes the growl.
Yes, I need to figure out ways around that sense of utter isolation, ways that my backbrain understands. Turns out, for instance, having Kate Paulk on Skype, even if we only exchange a sentence or two a day helps a lot. I don’t know why. I’m planning other things. More on that in a moment.
The rest of the state of the writer isn’t all bad. I’m finally writing again, but it keeps getting interrupted by house remodeling. We now have two rooms left to floor, and after that a major cleaning and culling of the garage and the storage room needs to happen.
After which I can get storage crap out of my library and be able to access my research books. And also, maybe, use it as a broadcast room.
You see, our library is in the basement, so we can completely control the lighting. And once the storage crap is out of it, we can put in an armchair, and I don’t care if you guys see the books I have on the shelves. (Yes, some of them are weird.)
Because of the stupid hits this year has given us, I’m thinking — for short term money — of teaching writing workshops. Younger son says he can record them and perhaps edit the videos. However, he can’t edit the sound, because of his sensory issues, so we’re trying to find someone to do that (Though it’s kind of academic until we clean the library which will probably take a month or so.) I will then offer lectures, but also will do “homework” correcting (i.e. reading people’s efforts and critique) probably once a month. I will confess this is half for the money, but half for human contact. Because of that, probably one workshop a month and unless I love them unreasonably, probably only for four or five months. Because I want to be a writer, not a teacher.
I’m also thinking of doing readings and meetings with fans via skype and/or zoom from my office. Probably evenings, maybe Saturdays?
Money-wise, I am finally collating a series of posts from this blog. In fact, I have and have printed them to edit. These are about acculturation and immigration, and will probably be called Coming to America. I want to do on on America itself (“My country ’tis of thee”) but that’s harder to do word searches for, so it will take longer.
These will be published under A2Hoyt, so as not to confuse fans of my fiction. Yes, I’ll announce them here when they’re done. Yes, there will be a paper edition.
I confess I have no clue what to expect from this, because honestly though a lot of people say they’d like it, it sounds like when people say “publish your books on paper, and I’ll buy them” and then you sell 2. We will see. I have roughly 8 years of daily posts, and even after editing out the passing commentary or the complaints about health and other stuff, it’s a lot of wordage that can be mined. Again, we will see.
The money is not a systemic problem, btw, it’s the fact that our car broke down when we least expected it, our other car was in a stupid accident (Yeah, the car not the driver, as the driver was hemmed in, and had to go over something that damaged the undercarriage.) and stuff like that. Like basement shower will need to be replaced, because it was improperly installed. Etc. Also we’d like to recover from the hit taken for the boys’ education. And cats were stupidly expensive this year, which I wouldn’t mind except it ended in death in both cases. The recovery part is not STRICTLY necessary, but well…. If we can, I’d like to do it.
Anyway, so that’s where things are. I’ve had for some time now, also a plan of doing short (10 to 15 minutes) how to write videos for youtube. Honestly, I don’t even know if anyone would be interested, and am even more doubtful on whether it would translate to book sales (Writers don’t buy your fiction just because you give them free teaching, which is why MGC has changed format.)
Then when I was going over posts to collate, I came across this: Not Dead But Laughing.
I thought it would be great fun to do these as videos, with cartoons/ funny images. Basically the narrated version of a GIF post.
The obvious problem is finding material to fisk. While a lot of you are teachers, it would be bad to use your students’ stuff. And while many “ridiculous essays and tests” circulate, most of those are fake, or not worth joking about.
I don’t think there’s a solution or a reliable source, but what the heck, I thought I’d throw it out there, because some of you might know of some. Heck, some of you might know of the papers of a few professors (punch up when you can) that are on line and which are on that level of idiocy (I know of one.)
Anyway, it’s worth asking. I can then do a series of videos to amuse you. And maybe it will cheer you up too.
Meanwhile, I’m feeling better. Sorry for scaring you, but sometimes — very occasionally — I’m human and I have trouble even finding my bootstraps, much less pulling myself up.
And now, I’m going to finish flooring the room in progress. After which I have to be in a zoom meeting for the Baen Corsairs anthology (which has the first/introductions to Robert’s and my Star Student universe. Hopefully I’ll make it, as there is an appointment in between flooring and that, and if there’s traffic, I might not.) And then I need to get paint and repaint the just-floored room because (wouldn’t you know it?) I got the touch up paint in the wrong brilliance. GRRR.)
After which, at 5 pm or so, I need to write.
But I am feeling somewhat better, and I’ll continue putting one foot — and one word — in front of another.