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Monday; the new novel...

The novel I'm writing now -- _Alien Tongues_ -- is going along at a glacial pace. I'm not sure why ... maybe it's just that like everything else I do now, I'm no longer able to work as quickly as I could in the past. On the other hand, maybe I'm just writing more carefully than I have in the past, since I don't have a deadline to meet. I dunno... I do know that I'd rather it went more quickly.
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Monday; deja vu...

Something nobody warned me about as a phenomenon of old age ... the deja vu problem. I see a fleck of dust and am convinced that I've already seen that exact same fleck at least a dozen times before. I see a tiny gnat crawling somewhere, and am convinced that I've already seen that exact same gnat at least a dozen times before.

I understand this, logically. I've lived in this house for decades, and I've surely seen a fleck of dust in that exact same spot -- and a tiny gnat in that exact same spot -- scores of times, maybe hundreds. But it's weird all the same.

It's only in the things I do every single day that this happens; if I do something new, it doesn't happen.

Early warning....
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Friday...

Well, glory hallelujah! The colonoscopy yesterday turned up none of the terrible things it might have -- just a severe case of hemorrhoids [indelicate, I know, but true] and worn spots on the colon that my doctor says will heal if I start eating enough roughage. Plus he had a good treatment plan for the hemorrhoids.

I was surprised, though, at how much it hurt. They had promised me it wouldn't hurt. My guess is that the anesthetist -- because of my bizarre medical history with all medications -- tried to keep the drugs to a minimum. I did a lot of unseemly non-Ozarker yelping. I wasn't conscious during all of that yelping, but I wasn't OUT either.

I had expected it to take me forever to come down from the sedation, but was surprised by that as well. I once went into the hospital for a trivial outpatient procedure and ending up having to stay three days, because they could not get me down off the high. I saw pyramids of golden buddahs; I saw fountains of roses; and I kept insisting that the nuns in their headdresses were seagulls flying through my room. I am for sure a very cheap drunk, but this time was brief.

The colonoscopy prep -- which is a Violent Purge & Fast -- was rough for an old lady; it dwindled me down to 89 pounds. But it's all over, and all is well. My thanks to all of you for your good wishes, good thoughts, and good prayers.
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Wednesday...

Tomorrow I have to have a colonoscopy -- and I can't even begin to tell you how terrified I am. Please keep me in your thoughts, and [if you're a praying person], in your prayers.
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Friday; some Anne Tyler techniques from "Searching For Caleb"...

1. Things serving as protagonists...


p. 12:
"The elevator toiled upward, creaking and sighing."

p. 13:
"Puffy eyes took her in from top to toe, her streaky ribbons of hair and her brown coat with the uneven hemline."


2. Lists, with a surprise in them...

p. 19:
"The room gave off an icy chill. Everything was bare, scraped and smudged by the past -- four bald spots on the linoleum where the table had once stood, and dimples where Duncan had tipped back in his chair, scorches and chips on the countertop, the uncurtained window filmed with cooking grease, the rickety wooden shelves empty but still bearing rings of molasses and catsup."

p. 41:
"The old lady reappeared with paper plates, plastic forks, and then trays of rice, hunks of meat in tomato sauce, eggplant, chicken dusted with some peculiar red powder, wrinkled black olives, bowls of beet soup and chopped cucumber in yogurt, great flat disks of bread and pitchers of green Kool-Aid."

p. 69:
"She liked to huddle beneath the drooping velvet canopy of the bed, which was her mother's real home, surrounded by a circle of chocolate boxes, empty teacups, ladies' magazines, and cream-colored letters from Baltimore."


3. Whole stories hidden in paragraphs....

pp. 123-124:
"At nine o'clock that evening, Caroline rose up in her pink silk gown and put on her feathered slippers. Before leaving the room she turned off the television set. She descended the stairs, stately and flowing; she crossed the front hall and went out the door. She drifted across the lawn and then onto the road, where she proceeded down the center with her arms out and her steps mincing and careful like a tightrope walker. To the first car that came, she appeared as monstrous and unexpected as a wad of pink bubble gum. The driver gasped and swerved at the last moment. The second driver was harder to surprise. "Do your drinking at home, lady!" he shouted out the window, and then he slid smoothly past.

She had to wait for six cars, all told, before she found one that would run her down."
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Thursday BookNote; "Searching For Caleb"...

If you haven't yet read Anne Tyler's Searching For Caleb [Berkley Books 1975], I urge you to do so. My own copy has been read to tatters; yesterday I finished it once, and went straight back to the beginning and read it through again. I was as entranced by it the second time through as I was the first. The characters are irresistible, the plot is gripping, and the writing is just plain splendid. I love this novel, and I recommend it without reservation. It's not science fiction, but it's as close to a perfect novel as any writer could possibly get.
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Tuesday; a quote...

This quotation caught my eye, and my mind, and my full attention, and I want to share it with you. It comes from page 88 of Sonia Johnson's The Ship That Sailed Into the Living Room [Wildfire Books 1991]. And it goes like this:

"This means that what we speak of as the poem exists only as it is laid down on the paper before us -- those words with that rhythm, that sound, in that shape. The words do not carry the meaning alone. In fact, the form they are in dictates what they can mean at any given point. When we talk about the poem's meaning and how the poet achieved it, this is talking about the poem, it is not the poem. The poem is the experience -- the emotions and thoughts -- we have as we read the words on the page, or hear them read, with all their internal relationships and within their peculiar context and structure."

My, that's useful.
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Monday...

I am very cross with my so-called television "news" channels. Where, although it says "breaking news" on the screen, what follows is a clip I've already seen dozens of times. It's insulting to the viewers; the implication is that we're so stupid we don't recognize content that we've already seen over and over and over again. And even on the Sunday shows -- even on "State Of The Union," for example -- they show clips they've already shown a dozen times or more.

I've complained here before about the dumbing-down of our magazines. Now I'm complaining about the dumbing-down of the alleged "newscasts." It's infuriating.
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Wednesday...

I've come to a point with my consulting contract where all I can do is wait; I can't do any more of the work until someone else has done some of the work. How long this will go on I have no way of knowing, but based on my past experience with this client, it will be quite a while.

This means that if I can manage to shift my gears properly, I'll be able to spend some time working on the new novel -- which has, all this time, been steadily ripening.