October 16th, 2012

tea

Longing for Unicorns

I must be getting back to normal, finally. Yesterday, I walked to the bank (exercise!), did some laundry, dusted and trimmed the vines around the patio. Plus I revised five chapters. Now I'm at the part I most wanted to re-write, so my progress may slow a bit. It feels quite good to be back in something resembling my normal routine. There's still some coughing, but it's at regular fall allergies levels, not bronchitis levels.

Meanwhile, I've got a kitchen experiment in progress. I didn't have quite enough of The World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies left over from Saturday's gathering for the neighborhood gathering on Sunday, but I didn't need a full second batch, and I didn't have time to bake the entire batch, so I made up the dough and did one cookie sheet full of cookies, which turned out to be just enough. The rest of the dough, I put in the refrigerator. One of my cookbooks said that any cookie dough can be refrigerated or frozen, so I put spoonfuls of dough on a plate to freeze separately, then put them in freezer bags. Theoretically, this means I can have fresh-baked World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies whenever I want them. We'll see how well it works. And before you ask for my recipe, it's just the one in the Betty Crocker cookbook. But these cookies seem to be my superpower because they don't seem to be as magically good when someone else uses the same recipe. I really don't know what it is that I do that would be any different. I suppose if you have to have a signature dish, this isn't a bad one.

I'm still working my way through the reading list of recommendations, and I finished The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle, last night. I can't believe I hadn't read that classic, but I have now rectified that situation. It took me a long time to read for such a short book, probably because the language is as important as the story. It isn't a book you tear through to see what happens. I found myself wanting to take notes of particularly good turns of phrase. The funny thing is, he really talks like that in real life. I once moderated a panel with Peter on it, and for a long time, he was really quiet. I figured he was the one most of the audience members were there to hear, so I kept trying to bring him into the conversation. When I finally found the right question to get him talking, he spoke just as elegantly and poetically as he writes, and I think everyone in the room was mesmerized.

I'll need to read this one again because toward the end I did start reading quickly to see what happens, so I'm sure I missed a lot. This is one I probably need to own a copy of because I think it would go on my list of books to cheer me up. I also need to find more of his books. I read A Fine and Private Place ages ago and loved it, but it looks like there are more I need to look into because I could probably learn a lot as a writer from reading his work. I'm really not a wordsmith on that level and it wouldn't hurt me to get better at that aspect of my craft.

There was something about the writing that wove a spell, and then there was something about the spell that makes it difficult to talk about the story itself. I noticed that the copy I had from the library didn't have any kind of back-cover blurb. There was just artwork and no description, so it's like the publisher also couldn't talk about the story. It's basically about a unicorn that hears someone say the unicorns are all gone, so she sets out to find out what happened to all the others, and then she encounters human helpers along the way. There's a self-awareness about how fairy tales and legends work and both playing into and subverting the tropes, but it's mostly a book about longing.

And now off to go fix my current project. I haven't done a lot of rewriting yet, just making a lot of notes about threads I seem to have started at the beginning and forgotten by the time I got to the end. Now, though, I'm at the part where I know it was getting sketchy and I was impatient, so I'm going to force myself to take my time on it.