Working Toward Something

Either winter’s being stubborn or spring’s being coy. Haven’t figured out which yet. We’ve had snow in a couple parts of the state, though not here. Definitely looks like spring, feels like November. I’m feeling a day late and a dollar short myself, but that’s not unusual.

It’s also not unusual for deer to pass through our upper terraces on their way up the northern ridge, and even not unusual for a few to flake out and chill on the first terrace. We’ve had a whole herd up there before more than once, just taking it easy. Yesterday was a little unusual, though. Just two. One of them was a young buck. When I say young, maybe a yearling, with two tiny little buds for antlers. He was resting comfortably when his mom—my inference, but pretty sure I’m right—came up, and after a little motherly grooming, kicked him in the butt to get him up and moving. Tough love, I suppose, but it worked.

Anyway, maybe there was a point to it. Do what you have to do, regardless of circumstances. I’m repainting the bathroom, even though it’s been raining for a week. I’d rather it was nicer, less humid weather, but it has to be done, and no point waiting. So like a little buck kicked in the butt, I’m not waiting.

Good thing to remember. Young bucks become old bucks, and no one has forever to wait around.

Things to do.

A’ Mulching We Will Go

It’s spring. So there’s a lot of leaves around from last fall. Sort of like a letter from your old pal Autumn. Hi! Remember me? Thought I was gone, didn’t ya?  He takes after his brother, Winter.  Even when he’s gone, he’s not entirely gone.

So I bought a leaf mulcher. It’s basically a string trimmer turned on its back with a funnel to guide the leaves into the strings where they are chopped into, as the commercial says, “That’s some good mulch!” But honestly I don’t need the mulch. Neither one of us could be fairly called gardeners. We just like the leaves tended to rather than blowing around willy-nilly. At least mulch is good for the yard.

Rather like bits and pieces of old stories. I sometimes still refer to false starts, stories that went bad, snippets of notions and such “mulch.” Nothing’s really wasted. Maybe that false start was the right start, just the wrong story. Sometimes a bad story will finally tell you what it needs to make it good, or that snippet has a notion buried in it you weren’t ready to recognize at the time. Since half of writing is recognizing a good story when it shows itself, that’s a win. They’re all win.

Waste nothing.


Spring Ritual

This morning I spent a couple hours at a nearby auto shop doing the spring ritual—swapping out the winter tires for the summer tires. So now my wheels are studless and the winter tires are bedding down in the garage until next November. I look around at all the snow remaining and wonder if this was a good idea, but the rules are “no studded snow tires after March,” so we do what we have to. Come winter, though, you can bet I’ll have the snow tires back on. I’m a southern boy. I KNOW I do not yet grasp how to drive on ice, so I need all the help I can get.

Last night I finished the rewrite of the second story in the new series and sent it out. No idea yet what the third will be, but it’s out there. I’ll find it. It would be good for the series if I can place them all with the same publisher, but time will tell. There’s a limit to how many stories by the same author any given market can absorb in a year, and if I get on a tear I could easily overwhelm it. I remind myself there are other projects that need attention. None of which will mean a darn if these are the stories that want to be written now; I’ve learned to just go with it when that happens, even if, professionally, it may not be the wisest course.

Regardless, now that the first is written and sold and the second is complete, I feel confident enough in its reality to say this much about it: Set in China (or rather, what will one day be China) during the early Warring States period, about 500 BCE. I’d been thinking about these characters for a while, but never got a good handle on how to tell their story until now. I’m a little excited. Once the first has been scheduled I’ll say more, and more to the point, where to find it.