Sunday, December 29, 2002

Well, if this journal is going to retain its pretentions to being a quarterly, I'd better update it, huh?

I'm writing this on my laptop in the living room of a house in Astano, in Italian-speaking Switzerland, near the border of Italy. The town is tiny and in the middle of the woods, but is committed to being resolutely urban. So there are only about three actual roads you can drive on: the rest of the houses -- maybe three blocks' worth -- are jammed together in a warren of winding, covered alleys, as if they were deep in the labyrinthine slums of Naples. We're here with Swiss friends for a week of doing nothing: cooking, chatting, reading, writing for me, going on damp hikes among the pine and palm trees (Ticino being, oddly, both alpine and subtropical).

There is a baby here, Marie, Esther's godchild, who is a year younger than Aviva, and is thus "little" (whereas Aviva, when asked, professed to be "big"). Aviva likes to hug her and give her passionate kisses. Generally Marie enjoys this, although she sometimes looks befuddled. Sometimes Aviva gets a little aggressive and we take her up to our room, to hang out there with me or Esther, until she cools down. She doesn't like that one bit, but she understands it. So much so that when she quite accidentally loses her balance and falls over with Marie, she is inconsolable at the thought of being punished, even though we weren't actually planning to punish her.

We went back to America for Thanksgiving/Hanukah and had a wonderful time. We did some raking:
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and we went to the 20th anniversary party of my mom's camp, where I once was a computer director:
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I know I'm biased, but Aviva seems like an incredibly photogenic kid to me. Look what a dork I look like in this series, how Esther looks lovely but not as if she really wants to have her picture taken, while Aviva looks poised and graceful, regal even:
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Hmm, so, writing. The Silverberg & Haber Science Fiction: The Best of 2002 bought reprint rights to "Droplet". F&SF bought the highly surreal "Red Leather Tassels", and Strange Horizons bought "The Book of Jashar" -- a biblical vampire story that had been languishing for years and years before Charlie Finlay gave me an excellent idea for a frame-tale.

I'm still dawdling on Crimp, though my writing partner is in a burst of great productivity. I've been tracking our progress on a spreadsheet: at the current rate, we'll have a first draft done in August of '04. Ugh. That's way too slow for my tastes.

I took time out and wrote a couple of short stories, one of which -- a sort of spooky, fantastical kid's story -- I'm very excited about. I think it would make a great illustrated book... though I'm not sure it's marketable as such. Anybody know anything about children's book markets?

I have been doing more and more thinking about backstory for the world that "The Trouble With Danny" is set in, and getting more and more excited about it. I'm not sure that story can be a story any more -- it may have to be a novel. And I fear that I'm so fascinated by the world and have so much to say about it that my worldbuilding may overwhelm whatever story I'm trying to tell in the book. It occurred to me today that I might have better luck envisioning it as a tapestry or montage work, a la Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, rather than as a single character's linear story. And I'm also a little disgruntled that my mind is already leaping ahead to the next novel while I'm making such (for my tastes) sluggish progress on the current one. It's the two sides of the coin thing: creativity and restless dilletantism seem to be packaged together in my psyche. All I can do is ride Plato's horses of identity as best I can.

The daily series of wonders and miracles that comprise Aviva's language acquisition have almost become commonplace: or rather, I still marvel at each day's unbelievable sentence (today's, after our hike, was "mir han sau wiit gloufe" -- roughly, "we walked a hell of a long way today") but the things I remember her amazing me with a few weeks ago (like the first time she said, as we wheeled her carriage along the sidewalk, "ha mer dSchoppe drbii?" [ = "did we bring the bottle with us?"], or the first time she bounced into the bedroom on a Saturday morning and told me, "Get up!") no longer seem remarkable at all.

A very happy new year to you all!