Archive for December, 2008

Work in Idleness

Posted in Writing on December 31, 2008 by Patrick

My last post got some response.  I was particularly interested by the comment by Frater R. O., who suggested that guilt is appropriate when one should be working, but isn’t.

I think there’s a place for idleness, though, in work.  I sometimes think that the writing process itself is built on staring at blank walls and thinking about not much in particular in a conscious sense.  But part of me just gets restless, and that’s the part that needs to calm down at the idea generation stage.

That might be why revision is becoming my favorite stage in the writing process.  The ideas are there, and the goal is just to make them clearer — it’s a more defined goal than the earlier drafting stages, and best of all, there’s obvious improvement visible as one works.  And, unlike editing, revision engages the actual ideas.


The . . . Great? . . . Work?

Posted in Writing on December 31, 2008 by Patrick

Today was not particularly productive.  I was going to bang out two of my three syllabi today, but that didn’t really happen and probably won’t.  I spent most of the day sitting in my still-empty house reading a paperback and waiting for a guy to come and write some numbers down on the gas meter.

I was supposed to write an article for Rending the Veil magazine, a really excellent online magical journal, but the holidays kind of ate my brain.

Ideas are weird.  I get them in clusters: I’ll get lots of poetry ideas for a week or two, some fiction ideas, some ideas about things I’d like to write about magic — and then nothing.  Or I’ll get three ideas for scholarly research I’d like to do, and then nothing for weeks.  Mostly, I’ve been gearing my mind up to course construction for the upcoming semester, so I wonder if that’s why I’m not so productive writing right now.

It’s also weird how guilty it makes me feel sometimes, as if I should be completely productive in every single field I write in all the time.

Habemus domus!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 21, 2008 by Patrick

Domus?  Domum?  Neuter, right?  Meh, silly language.

Anyway, we’ve got a house.  It’s all cozy and — empty.  Cause I can’t move until my Preferred Label Here  gets back from his work-travel and family-travel, so that won’t be until after the New Year, probably.  I did go and shovel the walk, and I have one question to ask those who live in houses rather than apartments or farms with plows: viz, how the hell do you shovel the driveway every single time it snows and still make it to work on time?  I’m already dreading this job.

Speaking of dreading and jobs, I finished up grading my finals today.  Going to enter the grades in my gradebook next, then turn them in Monday and I’ll officially be on vacation, which is great, because I have yet to buy any (well, almost any) Christmas/Yule presents for my family.

Oh, and I promised you some magic talk (you, my two or three readers.  Yay you!  That makes you better than most people, you know, reading me).

So getting the loan on this house was, for various problems, deeply difficult.  It wasn’t a credit issue — as one of the select adepts of arcane mysteries who understands compound interest, I have pretty good credit.  It was an issue with paperwork, being lost, being confused, and so on.

Finally, out of frustration, we decided to abandon our original bank (which will remain nameless, although they’re named after a very large and important country) and go with a mortage company.  Over Thanksgiving, I had a dream:

I was walking through a hallway of black stone, giving orders to people through a headset.  Someone had invaded my territory, and I was trying to capture them.  It was clear that I was in charge, and I was going somewhere.  Finally, because mundane efforts — my security force — weren’t yielding much success, I started calling up spirits, including one that I used to get the paperwork facilitated for my dissertation.  I had forgotten about him in my waking mind, but in the dream, he worked at getting the invaders captured.  I met them in my throne room, which was pretty cool.

Shortly after that dream, I reactivated that spirit and asked him to “smooth the way.”  We got the loan shortly after.  Here’s the weird part, though.  The closing was anything but smooth.  It took five hours, because the names had been screwed up on the paperwork.  It pretty much ate all of my Friday.

So — I have the house.  But did the spirit work, or was it just mundane success?  It took us three months to get the loan, but after the evocation I got it in a couple days.  But shouldn’t a spirit made to “smooth the way” have made sure the paperwork was right, especially since he was specifically a spirit who dealt with facilitating paperwork?

Don’t know what to chalk this one up as.  It kind of feels like the pattern I’ve experienced when I’ve done magic for the same thing twice in a short period, actually: I get it, but with one final screw up.  I wonder now, did I actually do the magic in my dream, and doing it while awake just complicated the issue?  I don’t know, but it’s interesting to consider.

(obviously, the easiest answer is magic is self-deception — always a tempting answer, and I’d love to cling to it, but that’d be an act of existential Bad Faith, considering my previous experiences.  I have to trust my experiences.)

Change in the Wind

Posted in Uncategorized on December 18, 2008 by Patrick

Finally, I have re-arranged my blog a bit to make it a bit more friendly to myself, if not to my visitors.  This new arrangment will make it easier for me to post more frequently.

I’m closing on a new home Friday.  After the closing, I’ll tell you about the magic I had to do to get this house.

I’m also finishing up finals right now.  I have two more classes worth of portfolios to grade, a task that’s not terribly arduous in that I don’t need to write comments on them.  At the same time, every time I read a sentence like “Many people think that literature is a way for people to express emotions and ideas in language, and the author uses his language to express an image of loneliness in the ideas and words of the poem” my fingers twitch toward my red pen.  Fortunately, the vast majority of my students are wonderful, and I get a lot more stuff that makes me want to write “wow” and “cool” in the margin, rather than “what the hell does that mean?”  And, of course, even those who spin out those tangled webs of words probably mean something — they’re just not skilled in communicating their ideas yet.

As far as current projects go — yeah.  I’m working on a novel; it involves a modern mage living in Chicago.  Original, right?  I’m working on poetry, too.  As far as books on magic go . . . maybe I’m burned out.  I’ve toyed with the idea of a book about divination, and I like the idea of a book of spells that isn’t.  But mostly, I’ve noticed that the stuff I’d like to read (and therefore write) doesn’t really sell.  C’est la vie.