Thursday, December 15, 2016

Notes Towards the Middle of the Last Month of a Difficult Year

It’s one of those “State of the Apocalypse” rambles where I talk about stuff, thangs.

It’s beginning to look a lot like...winter.
I’m always looking to the southwest, as that appears to be where most of our weather comes from, especially the snow. Green Ridge/Greenie Mountain are somewhere behind that lowering cloud bank.

The temperatures in the high alpine San Luis Valley are taking their time ratcheting down to their famous below-zero Fahrenheit levels, for which I am grateful. We installed a wood pellet stove downstairs that heats the front end of the house just fine. Somehow, though, the heat either doesn’t rise (unlikely), or (very likely) dissipates through the many leaks in this indifferently maintained century-old Victorian before it even mounts the stairs.

We have two gas furnaces, one that works well enough to heat the mud room and the kitchen, and another that mainly seems to blow cold air into the main house, despite multiple calls to the furnace guy. With the aforementioned wood pellet stove, plus a portable kerosene heater I run in the main bedroom, plus another kerosene heater in my office, we have no less than five sources of heat barely keeping this place warm.

By “barely,” I mean the temperature at best downstairs approaches 65. We’ve set the thermostat on the main gas furnace to 80. Yet it hasn’t been so much as 70 degrees downstairs since August. (NOTE: In the San Luis Valley, nighttime August lows can dip into the high 40s F. It’s actually not a good idea to leave your windows open at night, even if it was 80 degrees F throughout the day. I learned this the hard way my first week here. Never again.)

Since we put the electric mattress pad on, however, I’ve been able to forego wearing sweats to bed, but it’s still a chilly wake-up. With all these energy-intensive heating units at work, I imagine a large utility bill, along with all the money spent on the side for wood pellets and kerosene.

Reckon I should write faster, right?

Speaking of writing...I’ve had a few inquiries on the status of the third and final book of THE SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER
Look, cats! D’awwww....

Funny story. I started writing this post on 3 December. I got to the sentence immediate above the above photograph and stopped cold.

I honestly don’t know how to tell you. I’ll just have to tell you.
(Takes a deep breath.)

Aside from the drama of selling a house to pay down years of accumulated debt, searching for another house as near as possible to our old one (at least within the same state), dealing with the logistics of moving 200 miles, getting an indifferently maintained century-old house up to 21st century code, keeping it warm in one of the most notoriously frigid locales in Colorado, if not North America...I’d talk more about my depression and anxiety that have put me out of action for weeks into months at a time, except I’ve noticed just about everyone’s anxious and depressed on the Internet. I’m also aware that there are people out there who wish they had my problems. No one wins competing in the Oppression/Depression Olympics. I only mention this because my mental malaise has been a major factor behind my work stoppage. 

One day at time. It’s all I can do. As a far worthier depression sufferer than I once put it, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Only six and a half months until summer! We’ve got this!

As far as writing The Wrong Kind of Dead was concerned, however, maybe I should have quit it once the narrative went off track. I was writing on it clear into May, but I knew as far back as January that the dynamic between Derek and Agnes and Elyssa was wrong.  How the Family Grace got into the Jackson Redoubt rang false, and a major emotional beat and series-unifying event didn’t work at all.

Still, I kept writing. After all, it’s better to write and change it later than to not write at all, right? As it turns out, I’ll have to go through all the stuff I’ve posted already for the book and pick a point in which to cut the rest off off and strike out on fresh sheets of pixel. There are a couple of scenes I can still use, but, as I learned with Grace Among the Dead, it’s faster and better to write those scenes all over again from scratch than to try and force them into harmony with the tone of the new narrative.

Another problem I noticed is that, as the series has been written over a period of four years, the change in my writing style has become noticeable enough to be distracting. I’ve known all along I would have to plow through Bleeding Kansas for a third time (there are actually three different editions, including a German language one) and take out the remainder of the rookie errors. Then I would have to take on Grace Among the Dead, which is an even bigger mess. 

Then, and only then, would I be able to plow forward with the rewrite of the first part of The Wrong Kind of Dead before finishing it.
As the poet observed, the days run away like wild horses over the hills.

So where am I in this process? It’s not a simple answer, and this post has gone on long enough. I’ve got to get back to work. Suffice it to say I’m happy to have this much behind me now. It’s better than the big fat nothing I had before. 
There’s this, too.