Broken turn signal, broken clutch lever (I just went to BMW and paid $157 for a replacement to make the cycle rideable while I wait for the insurance adjuster to call), damaged front fender, damaged hand guard, damaged exhaust pipe, and shredded cover. That’s what I can see at the moment. I’m going over to replace the lever and start it up.
Rob and I left the apartment at the same time today, which is a rare occurrence. I kissed him goodbye, got on the train and he headed off to ride his motorcycle.
When I got off the train, my phone rang. Rob.
He rarely calls me, so I had a sinking sensation. “Hi. What’s wrong?”
“Someone hit my motorcycle.”
I had a moment of no breath.
“It was tipped over when I got to it. [Some technical term] is broken and the [other term] is bent.”
And just like that, I could breathe again. He hadn’t been on the bike. I don’t worry when he’s outside town, but in the city is another matter. I made some sound that meant, “Holy crap, that’s awful but I’m glad you were nowhere near it when it happened.”
Rob continued, “So, I’ll have to deal with insurance today and probably won’t be able to stand in line for tickets to Hamlet. I just wanted to let you know. I’m sorry. If I finish up, I’ll try but–”
“Don’t worry about it. No Shakespeare tonight.”
Do you see the kind of man I married? His very expensive toy is broken and his first thought is to apologize to me that we can’t go see a play.
Meanwhile, I’m sure he’s furious about someone hitting and leaving his bike. Our insurance company is pretty good, but this is a hassle that the poor boy does not need.
I don’t talk about my writing process all that much on this site because every writer has their own way of figuring things out. That and I generally find it dull, but the motorcycle ride yesterday reminded me of a trick that I find handy and you might, too.
I spent a lot of time on the back of the bike doing “headwork” and trying to sort out character motivations and worldbuilding. The moment we stopped, I pulled out my keyboard and started writing. Not story, but jotting down what I’d been thinking about during the headwork.
In fact, the term is misleading because, while I spend some time just thinking, like yesterday, I usually write a lot of this stuff down in the form of a dialog with myself. Sometimes this happens at the beginning and sometimes in the middle when I discover a plot problem.
The key is writing it down, because that makes the ideas less slippery. I can see when I’m covering the same territory because I have a log of my thought process.
I was going to use yesterday’s session as an example, but it’s sort of too in the middle of the project, to be useful to anyone except me. But, while working on “American Changeling,” I found my characters stalling a lot, which is a sign to me that I don’t know what they want. Now, I knew that my main character needed a Key to open a magically shut gate. But what was that key? I had no clue. Here’s my log of the headwork I did to sort that out.
What does Kim want?
To fit in.
What do her parents want? Love her, but loyal to the Faerie Queen
How does she unlock the gate?.
First of all… Who locked it? Queen Elizabeth? To protect her borders because the Fae were going to make a deal with the Scots or the Irish. Research that.
OR did the Faerie Queen lock it herself to keep out the mortals who were corrupting her people OR to stop a threat from the Unseelie Court.
Let’s go with Queen E or no… the catholics but for similar reasons. ((Eventually wound up with Queen Mary)) Now. Where did the key wind up?
Ah… The Portland Art Museum as part of the Britannia exhibit. Make something up there that makes sense. Clearly the key is iron. ((Because then fairies can’t touch it, which was important to the story)) Is it necessarily key shaped? No. What else could it be…
A chalice. A mirror. An ink pot. A vase. A… What’s a reliquary. Now that’s an interesting idea. Yes. If the — oh, not the Art museum. A catholic church — reliquaries hold the bones of a saint, preferably a woman or child, but is actually the bones of a Fae. Yes. That makes sense.
All of which led me to a clearer understanding of my backstory and once I knew who my bad guys, I could make smarter choices about their actions. The thing about writing it down is that it makes it less ethereal. It gets it out of my head and lets me look at it without the sort of idealized Ah-ha! moment that vanishes when actually examined.
I won’t pretend that I made this idea up. I know a lot of writers who do it. I picked it up in Orson Scott Card’s Literary Bootcamp and, boy, has it made my life easier since.
For the first time since Halloween, I left the city for non-work reasons. Rob and I took a ride on his motorcycle up to a little town on the Hudson. So cute and so many antique stores. We didn’t buy anything, but it was so nice to have the leisure to just poke into shops and look at things.
Having the hour on the back of the motorcycle to just think and look at trees — and three deer, geese, a wild turkey and her chicks — was incredibly relaxing. I sorted out a story problem that had been stopping me from moving forward in a scene. I knew what the character needed to do, but her motivation for doing it made no sense. Now I’ve got one that does.
When we got back, I did some work on various not-interesting-to-talk-about projects and moved on to outing two. Alaya and I had a writing date. Now, I think we spent half the time writing and half the time chatting. When we’ve had writing dates before, our ratio has been better, but I haven’t seen her in months and we had much catching up to do. It’s bad when the only time you see a local friend is at conventions.
Now, I’m doing layout and feeling cranky about it.
Friday I had a meeting about a show I’m going to do set design for — one that does not involve any body parts at all — and then… then I had nothing on my calendar. I staggered for a bit, feeling like I had to race somewhere or do something but I didn’t.
I took the subway home, where my fabulous husband had dinner waiting. I spent some time getting work done that’s been pending at home and rediscovered the surface of my desk. It is brown and wood. Who knew?
Saturday, well, suffice to say that Saturday was lovely and is private. It has been a good six years.
Then today we rode the motorcycle up to D– and J–‘s home from their son’s second birthday party. It was good seeing them both. I hadn’t seen D– since the show we’d worked on in Iceland. My heavens. Their son was still in-arms last time I saw him and he’s a tyke now. Plus! They had a puppet show there, which was performed by our mutual friend Steve Widerman, of The Puppet Company. Great seeing him.
We headed from there to Katonah to visit the L– family. They let us store Rob’s motorcycle in their garage and, as a bonus, we get to spend time visiting. Tonight I introduced them to hot toddies and may have made converts.
If you don’t know, a hot toddy is the best cold weather beverage ever invented. Unless you don’t drink, in which case I’ll argue for hot apple cider.
We just returned from those outings. Heavens. I feel like a real human being.
Edited to add, per request:
My hot toddy recipe
1 shot of bourbon, whiskey or scotch
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fill the rest of the cup with boiling-hot water
There are many variations and I make no claims that this one is The Genuine hot toddy, but it’s the one I like. Tweak to your hearts content; I like mine on the tart side, so I tend to keep the lemon juice ration high.
We have arrived safely in Salt Lake City. Alas, we had to cancel the dinner with friends because, even getting up at dawn, we still didn’t arrive at Beth’s until after eleven pm. Meanwhile, you can click on the photo above to look at an album–unlabled–of the past two days.
Things we learned today.
The truck goes about 60 to 65 mph, except up hills, then it goes 30, if we are lucky, for an average of 50 mph.
Marlowe, the cat who escaped outside last night, today exhibited signs of having kitty agoraphobia. He spent the first part of the day with his face pressed into the corner of his cage. He’s doing better now.
Maggie thinks that being in the van just means that she gets lots and lots of laptime.
Salt Lake City is much farther away if you can’t go 75 mph.
Weigh stations are not very exciting.
Wild fires make great sunsets.
Idaho roads are very bumpy.
Bumpy roads will cause the ferring guard to break on a motocycle if you are using it as an anchor.
Motorcycles are heavy if you have to tip them back upright.
When buying bottled water, make sure you select bottles with lids that screw on instead of ones with a bottle cap.
The new moving truck holds everything we were planning on taking, including bicycles and Rob’s motorcycle. Whew. We backed the new one up to the old one in front of the Chelsea’s house and carried stuff straight across–some things did get offloaded so we could control weight distribution–but it went so much smoother than yesterday. A shady street and a ramp beats sun and stairs any day.
A hearty, hearty thank you to the Chelsea household, Mick Daugherty and Rick Lovett for their help carting everything across. They totally saved our hiney.
The house is totally empty except for the cats and their acoutrements. We pick them up in the morning and hit the road. The plan is to leave at dawn and go straight to Salt Lake City instead of doing an overnight stay in Boise. Whee! At least the solstice will give us lots of daylight driving time.
We got word today that they have decided to hire someone else as Asset Manager. So, Iceland is off the table, officially. We’re both relieved to have a definite answer to something and also disappointed. Rob has sent an email to Daddi telling him to sell the KTM.
I confess, this mess with Audrey II is making my head spin enough that I don’t have the energy to give you a blow by blow of the motorcycle trip. But I did promise a picture, so ta-da! The short version is that I enjoyed the trip. We have nice friends. The passenger seat of the motorcycle was only comfortable for about an hour. It gets cold in the mountains when there is no car between you and the outside. I prefer twisty roads to straight roads. And we’ll do it again.
To refresh your memory, while we were in Iceland, Rob bought a motorcycle. Through the vagaries of customs, the thing didn’t actually clear said customs until about four months after we left the country. Lovely. So Rob has a motorcycle in Iceland which we’ve never seen. He’s also been shopping for motorcycle gear, so we’re both outfitted with jackets, helmets, gloves and so forth. All for a bike that is on the other side of the world.
He’s begun covertly shopping for one here too, because of course, the urge is not out of his system. I mean, how could it be, since he’s never touched the one that he owns. It’s as if it doesn’t really exist.
After looking around, he found a place that rents them here in Portland. We’ve been invited down to the beach with some friends for the weekend, so it seemed like a perfect time to try it out.
I have never been on a motorcycle. The thought has terrified me, while I’ve been encouraging him to pursue the thing. So, when he brought the rental bike home today, I put on my leather jacket and my boots, pulled the helmet on and got on the motorcycle behind him.
You know what? It wasn’t so bad. Dare I say, it was actually sort of fun? I think I’ve spent enough time on bicycles, so I understand what the balance of two-wheeled vehicles is like. I had been expecting to freak out when we had to lean into a turn. Nope. I’m also crediting riding horses in Iceland with helping me get past the fear of being on large moving things over which I have little control. My friend was telling me that the first time he went for his first bike ride he had to make use of some bike transport UK because he lived in the middle of nowhere and had a similar experience on his bike, so that was comforting.
We’re going back out and heading for Sauvie’s Island now. I gotta say, there are worse ways to spend a sunny day than sitting on a motorcycle, hugging one’s husband. I’ve even checked out a Harley-Davidson Sportster Buying Guide! I’m pretty tempted to buy a motorbike for myself!!
Rob, for some time now, has been coveting a motorcycle. He used to ride them in Hawaii and the roads in Iceland are apparently perfect for a motorcycle. So, he’s been shopping for one for a couple of months. The shopping was sort of a hobby. Until last night, when he won the auction for one. It’s in Germany and will be here in a couple of weeks. I’m so pleased for him. He so rarely covets something and to actually pursue it? Heavens.
Tonight I went to see Litla Hryllings BÃºÃ°in at the Icelandic Opera. Yep. Little Shop of Horrors in Icelandic. Now, I’ve done Little Shop a few times in my life and at this point have the thing memorized. This made it fairly easy to follow.
The set design was really good, it looked like a run-down neighborhood in ReykjavÃk, which meant that it looked like crumbling concrete. Well…even the good neighborhoods have crumbling concrete, but this had grafitti too. Seymo–excuse me, Baldur’s voice was very strong, as was the man playing the Dentist. I was disappointed with the puppet, in a large part because I think the director just ignored it.
In fact, there were a number of place where I felt like the director just didn’t get the show. For instance, when the Dentist enters for the first time, he is normally wearing a black leather motorcycle jacket. Not in this production. He just had on the dentist smock…which meant that in Act II when Seym–Baldur shows Audre–AuÃ°ur that he has a new black leather motorcycle jacket, it makes no sense.
There were other things like this, but it was still a very enjoyable evening.
(Tor Books — August 21, 2018) Continuing the grand sweep of alternate history laid out in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course, the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, […]