I’ve only recently started blogging again. I did not blog all through the fall, for various reasons. One was that I was finishing two books: The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl, which is the final novel in the Athena Club series, and the short story and poetry collection Snow White Learns Witchcraft. And of course I was teaching at the same time, so I ended up getting terribly behind on my work — all my work, both the teaching and writing, although I delivered everything I needed to. By the time the semester was over, everything had been turned in.
And then I got sick. And I kept getting sick, and the truth is that I’m sick now, as I’m sitting here typing this. I spent last weekend at Boskone, one of the local science fiction and fantasy conventions, telling everyone not to hug me because I was probably contagious. And of course also appearing on panels, signing books, talking to people. I think I’m getting over whatever this is, probably just a bad cold. But I still don’t feel well . . . My late night snack was two graham crackers and a tall glass of lime Airborne.
So clearly I’ve been overworked, but there’s more to it, because last fall I also moved into a new apartment, where I’m living now. I haven’t quite settled in yet, but I feel something here that I did not feel in my previous apartment . . . I can tell that I’m in transition. When I moved into the previous apartment, I felt a strange sense of dismay because I could tell that I was entering a period of statis, a period during which things would not change for a while. I don’t know how I could tell, but somehow I knew. And here, I feel a sense of dismay because I can tell the opposite, that things are going to be changing almost constantly.
I don’t know . . . I just sense these things, and I’ve learned that my instincts are a dependable guide to life. I can feel things in my gut, literally in my stomach, before I know them intellectually. The problem of course is that I don’t know what the transition is to. I don’t know where I’m going, although I’m being proactive. A friend told me about keeping a daily journal, even if the entries were short, even if they seemed boring and irrelevant, and I thought, why don’t I do that? So I’ve been keeping a journal that I write in most mornings, a page or two . . . And I’ve been writing down what I want in my life, as a sort of conversation with the universe. Maybe, my thinking goes, in this way I can convince the universe to give it to me?
Everything you experience tells you something about yourself, about what you want and don’t want in your life. This apartment is the entire first floor of a house that is at least a hundred years old, but probably older because it has wide plank floors with square-headed iron nails. There are things I don’t love about it: it’s expensive for a teacher to live in, for example. But then, any apartment would be in this area, so close to the city. And I can’t have a cat here, but again, that’s true of most apartments. There are things I do love about it. I have my very own back porch, where I’ve hung a bird feeder. This morning it snowed, and I could see blue jays, cardinals, and small gray junkos. The blue jays and junkos don’t like the feeder — they prefer to pick up seeds that have fallen to the ground. The cardinals perch on the feeder, but the ones who really love it are the squirrels. As you can imagine, they engage in all sorts of intricate contortions to get at the seeds. They are very amusing. And then, this house is on a quiet street lined with old trees, so when I wake up, it’s to the sound of rain, not traffic. I love that.
Don’t misunderstand me, I love so many things about my life: I love teaching, I love traveling and meeting readers, and there are even days when I more or less like Boston! But I also know that I’m missing a lot of things. Time, rest, and what is most important to me, the ability to spend an entire day writing, dreaming, creating things. I am always rushed, always trying to meet the next deadline, and nowadays often sick.
So something’s got to change, but the thing is, I think it’s going to, because I think I’m in the middle of a period of transition. Yes, I feel uncertain. Yes, I feel a little lost. And yes, sometimes I’m afraid of where I’m going, or the dark woods, or the night around me. All sorts of things. But life is a sort of fairy tale, isn’t it? I think it is, and mine has been so far in so many ways. The heroine of a fairy tale doesn’t quit in the middle of the dark woods. She keeps going. After all, she’s got glass hills to climb, white serpents to talk to, three old troll women to meet. They will give her a golden ring, a golden comb, and a golden spinning wheel, on which she will spin the silk rope for a ladder. With it, she will rescue the king held in the castle beyond the moon.
You see, I’ve got things to do. When you’re feeling a little lost in transition, the thing is to just keep going . . .
This is me last weekend at Boskone. It looks almost like a publicity photo, but actually I was hiding in a little back corner of Starbucks, drinking something hot to soothe my throat. That’s not a decorative scarf but a warm winter one, to protect my throat from the cold hotel air. And although I’m smiling, my nose was stuffed up, my voice hoarse. But I was there, doing what I do, being an author.