I will keep this short and sweet. Once Covid became a giant clusterfuck, I started homeschooling my kid. I helped her wrap up Kindergarten. First grade was all online. Some of second grade was, but I have taken teaching over completely since moving last fall. It isn’t hard, but it is time intensive. And, happily, the kiddo seems sharp as a tack.
But, that means every week is non-stop. And, you know, I love writing and all that, but it takes a backseat to my kid’s education. Nothing here is happening fast, that’s for sure.
So, this week was tax prep and filing, but also quizzes in multiplication and division, some Spanish lessons, and the kid’s first English test. Also, daily articles for Rooster (and some future articles), a personal newsletter (which not enough people subscribe to and which may become short-lived), this thing you’re reading right now, and work on OCTOBER ANIMALS. Oh, and some light editing and production art for CHROMOPHOBIA. I am a regular Frankenstein’s Monster of multiple responsibilities, when all I really want to do is chill out and listen to some violin and smoke a cigar by a fire.
It’s a lot. And, I can just barely keep up, it feels like. I mean, there’s a good reason Rooster/Strangehouse isn’t taking on new projects for 2023. Once 2022 books have been taken care of, I am going to chill out for a bit. Being a shepherd to other people’s manuscripts, as well as mine, running a business, teaching a kid… this shit is nuts.
I get that the world is fucked up and that shit is nuts for everyone, though. I try to keep complaints to a minimum. I am fortunate in my brand of fucked-upness.
There is a bit of a light at the end of the (work) tunnel. The kid is spending her Spring Break with Grandma. That means, instead of teaching and lesson prep, I get to hunker down and crush the remaining chapters of OCTOBER ANIMALS. That is literally all I have planned for next week: an uninterrupted writing session. 6 days of non-stop writing. I haven’t had one of these in at least three years.
Anyway, for funsies, here’s a tiny excerpt from a chapter I wrapped earlier in the week:
This Is Not Me, This Is Not Who I Am
In the nightime, under moonlight, Owl’s shovel bit into the ground. Black earth splashed the time-worn tombstone like an arterial spray. A cut most unkind, this lacerated place of rest, a grave in violation. Who am I? she thought. And then, she remembered what Lizzie Bat had said.
“I want each of you to steal something for me.” Lizzie Bat’s words burned brightly in the recesses of Owl’s mind. “Something only you could steal. But something you’d never dream of taking.”
Owl’s thoughts had immediately wandered to stories her great-grandpa used to tell, when she was still a little girl and he was still alive and she loved him. He’d been an undertaker since he was a young man, his first and only job. For a spell, he had been the only undertaker in Mischief, Illinois. “I’ve seen more dead bodies than you can shake a stick at,” he was fond of saying. But there was one body he never forgot and he never missed a chance to tell the tale. “Prettiest woman I ever laid eyes on, even murdered like she was,” he’d say. “Goddamn that Hop Holloway and his nasty business.” The old man would stare off and you just knew he was seeing her again, and then he’d get into the whole ghastly affair.
“Annamarie, one of three, dead at Hop’s hands on Halloween,” great-grandpa said. “Silly song the children used to sing.”
“Morbid stuff, if you ask me,” said Owl’s mother.
“Lots of silly stuff is born out of morbidity,” great-grandpa said, and then smiled at young Owl. “Silly things make life less scary.”
Ok, that’s quite enough for now.