(I only ever hear this phrase in my head as spoken by David Foxxe on that Sting song “St. Augustine in Hell.” This is not so odd for someone of my age and musical taste. What IS weird that I remember the speaker’s name is David Foxxe. As far as I know, I’ve never seen him in anything else and have zero reason to remember this bit of minutiae.)
It has been a lovely summer of sloth in terms of Self-Improvement. I have been working like a dog, I took some good vacations, I read nothing but brain candy, albeit well-written brain candy. Eighty-kerbillion pages and five months later, I’m very happy my mom handed over her copies of the Outlander series. Diana Gabaldon has an engaging voice and many enjoyable characters, and I learned some interesting techniques on characterization and plot points. My only critique is that some of the blind spots she was obliged to create as a means of maintaining suspense seemed rather forced, to the point that I found myself going, “What? No. Come on. Why would you assume THAT?” But if there were three of those in 80-kerbillion pages, that’s not such a bad track record.
I am also glad that I’ve finished it, so that my mom can stop gloating that it took me five months to accomplish what she did in one (though she does acknowledge that she doesn’t have an office job, or a kid to raise, or very many reasons to go outside between December and March).
So now I am resolved to plow through some stuff that’s been on my to-read list for ages. This morning’s commute saw me begin the audiobook of William Manchester’s A World Lit Only by Fire. I’m not far enough into it yet to have an opinion, except to say that he’s a very engaging writer and I enjoy his voice. I’m not part of the Manchester fan club; I’ve only read bits of his Churchill books. (I’m sure that my husband, upon seeing this, will stack the full bibliography on my pillow tonight.) The rabble-reviews on Amazon and Goodreads seem fairly polarized, but I can’t tell if that’s because he’s flagrantly disregarding the facts or people just can’t stand his opinions.
At night, I’m working on Ben Shapiro’s Primetime Propaganda, which I am enjoying a lot. Much of what he says is fairly obvious (to someone of my stripes, anyway), but it’s nice to see that other people watched Family Ties and thought Alex Keaton’s lines were funny-because-true, not funny-because-dumb. It has also left me wondering why vast investment has been made in conservative news, talk shows, etc., but none has been made in the field of TV entertainment. I’d like to see that happen. No idea how to make it so. I’d like to see a TV show where teenage girls are funny because they are smart and kind, not because they are vicious and sex-crazed. I’d like to see a TV show where men open doors and women let them and it isn’t a big debate about NOT HELPLESS and MALE OPPRESSION, but a simple gesture of respect and recognition of that gesture. Civility, not mockery or defensiveness or noise.
(For the perfect — if outdated — representation of this, I direct you to the movie Singles: He opens her car door, she reaches over and unlocks his. And without a word actually spoken between them, these gestures are perfectly understood by the receiving party. More, more, more of that, please.)
In other news, I heard from the agent. I am still on hold. She seemed to like the writing, but have no confidence in finding a buyer/market for the story. I was more or less prepared for that and ready to shop it around to smaller, niche houses, but she waved me off and has a colleague looking at it now. So I can still go to sleep at night with an ember of hope in my heart.
While that is going on, I am resolved to wrapping up and maybe shopping around some fiction. I have promised my kid that he and I are going to work together on some projects; based on previous experience, this will end in a combo plate of enjoyable memories mixed with passionate, angry-tears arguments about absence of logic and stomping of creativity. If nothing else, it will be an exercise in teamwork. If more comes of it, that will be nice, too.
And, of course, there’s always the day job. Word work is word work, and finding elegant ways to rephrase clunkers is always good practice.