October 9th, 2004


One year

A year ago yesterday, we pulled the moving van up the slope of the driveway and prayed the brakes would hold. We got to come home. We got to come back where we belong.

Some of you know that I graduated from high school a year early. I skipped a year and went sailing on to college. For the entire first year I was in college, people kept asking me, "Do you regret it? Do you miss it?" And the answer was always no. Never once did I regret it. Never once did I miss it. It's been 9 years since I graduated from high school, and I still haven't regretted it for the tiniest split second. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I sometimes missed people who were still back in Nebraska, but that's a different thing.

Nobody is asking me if I regret leaving California. Nobody is asking me if I miss it. I think everybody can hear my eyes mist over when I talk being here. I have never regretted it, not once all year. And I have not missed California. People, yes; living there, no.

I think the analogy continues, because college was not what I thought it would be. It was better. And so has it been being here, being home. It has not been a perfect year by any stretch of the imagination. But it's not just coming home. It's making it home, making it a different home than it was when we lived here before. Making it better. Richer. More full of hugs and books and good ice cream and sometimes people popping up going, "Hey, we should...."

Maybe it'll fade. Maybe I'll stop appreciating the Minneapolis skyline every time I see it. Maybe seeing the stand of yellow birches across our nearest lake will no longer steal my breath. Maybe I'll stop driving by the Lutheran church on Cedar that says "HOPE" in big letters and taking it as a specific instruction every single time. Maybe. I doubt it, though. Being away from home for four years made me awake to it, and for that I'm very grateful. Almost as grateful as I am to be back.
good mris pic

Only two numbers

I told mmerriam that novel ideas only come in two numbers: too few and too many. So he asked me how many I have.

Umm. Now, keep in mind that we're talking about generally outlined novel ideas, not "oh, someday I should write a fantasy with a perfumer as a main character...don't know how that'd go, though..." or "I wonder if there's another book in the series after Reprogramming [finished] and Command Line...maybe...." This is ideas I could sit down and start work on right now, or already have started work on. And any novel with a completed draft doesn't count, even if the draft needs major editing.

That'd be 57.

But many of them are YAs and thus shouldn't be longer than 60K, tops. Three of them are even children's, which means they should be even shorter.

A-yep. Still lots of words rattling around trying to get loose.

I used to worry that I'd run out of ideas. That it was just a fluke that I had gotten any ideas at all, really. I don't worry about that any more. I'm more excited about some of these than others, but they're all pretty solid, or I'd take them off the damn list. Because, really, more novels? No, no thanks. Thanks for asking, but no. And occasionally I get editors writing on short story rejections "this is good stuff but reads more like the beginning of a novel" or "I liked this, but it really deserves a novel." No! No no no! It's a short story, see? Beginning, middle, end, 4000 words, short story. See? Right?


(Incidentally, if you were a slush reader and had passed a story along to the head editor-being, and you e-mailed the writer to tell her this, and you wrote an e-mail like this: "How could you end the story there??? Dear Marissa: I'm passing [story] along to [editor]...", would you actually want to know how I could end the story there?)

I am not starting another novel today. Not not not. I can wait. Really. I don't have to be working on a novel on any given day.

Why are you snickering?
good mris pic

Week of October 3-9

Two rejections, no acceptances. And, um, a drafted novel. Y'know. That.

We've gotten into kind of a routine with markgritter's trips out to California. This upcoming week's trip isn't routine: it's Thursday dark-morning through Saturday dinnertime instead of Monday dark-morning through Friday late. And then there'll be another trip the last week of the month, and that one will be the normal one. This makes it very hard to schedule things with his or my parents, eating up weekend time like it does.

I feel like a cooked noodle. I think this is the beginning of post-draft crash. Boom! Over she goes. And down for the count. The plum wine acted awfully fast last night, I think partly because I'm a total lightweight but partly because of my mental state. Noodles can't type. Other than that, definite noodlehood.

I'll be staggering south for awhile this evening, and we may end up dining with C.J.'s parents tomorrow night for his birthday, or we may not. I have no idea if my mom will be popping up midweek for her friend's MN Supreme Court justicing or not. Much of the week is up in the air, in fact. And it'll be fine. And I can deal with short stories if I need to do some fiction. Right? Of course right.
good mris pic

Money, money, money

This year's income is significantly greater than any previous year's for our family, and so I found myself sitting down and making out a charity budget. This has never happened before. We've just kind of given as we could, when we could.

My mom warned me that some married folks find it harder to deal with money when they have some than when they have none. I can see why that would happen (although it didn't happen with us), simply because there are so many choices. Even once you agree on a dollar amount for a general grouping like charity, how much of it should go to medical research? How much to human rights activism? The environment? The poor and needy? The arts? How much should be local? national? international? I know that every little bit matters, but I can't help feeling that one organization could do a bit more with $100 than ten could with $10.

I think the list we came up with is good. It includes major categories about which we feel strongly, including a memorial donation for markgritter's grandmother, but it doesn't spread things too thin. Still, it felt strange to say, "Oh, sorry, no money for you, cancer; we're giving to heart disease this year."