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June 19, 2009

Sporadic posting lately; I’ll make it official now that I’m taking some time off – probably a week.  I’ve discovered that the problem with writing a book “live” is that you get caught up in “Internet time,” in which there is no rest – no newspaper can be put to bed because the news never stops; there’s no time to go to the proverbial cabin in the woods because then you’d be offline and who knows what you’d miss.  Blogging is like juggling: stop for more than a moment and everything falls; your audience leaves for intermission and forgets to come back. 

We had to put our family cat, 17 years old, to sleep this week.  I don’t deal with feelings well, which of course is why I’m not doing so well with the novel right now.  When I’d decided to write a novel about AI, I saw it as an intellectual exercise, but of course novels are not, unless you write in that anhedonic “I am so sensitive that I am numb” 80s New Yorker short story style.  (Margaret goes to the mall.  She does not know what she wants.  She stares at the <trendy product reference> in the window.  She drives home past the <sarcastic mass culture/stripmall reference> .  A butterfly flies in her window.  She crashes the car.  Standing next to the ruins, unharmed, she watches the butterfly fly away.  <Insert tiny epiphany, have your work called “luminous,” and, when interviewed, say that your writing is “all about the language.”>)

I was with her when she died, something I’ve never done with other animals, or even people I’ve known who died, with the exception of my dad.  It was awful, but I knew I couldn’t let her die with strangers.  We had a great vet, kind and compassionate, who came to my mom’s house and gave her the shots.  So she died at peace, and at home – how she used to scream when I’d put her in the box to go to the vet, so she was spared that.  I haven’t sobbed so much in years, petting her as she got the shots.  There’s something truly awful about seeing something alive, holding it, loving it, and yet realizing that in a few minutes it’ll be dead, gone forever.  She was sick, skinny, and ready to go, but now I understand the irrational, insane motives that drive the Terri Schiavo people – the inability to reconcile the living thing before you with the need to let it die, with the knowledge that it will be dead in minutes, by your decision, the decision that must be made.  It’s horrible.

So I’m exhausted.  And I really am at a turning point in the book, where it’s time to give Caroline her history, to dig deeper into her pain, and there’s no fucking way I’m doing that right now.  Next week I hope to get back to blogging the research – I have actually been reading Affective Computing, sporadically, what with being at mom’s during/after her surgery, then the cat dying.  But no actual fiction for a while.  Work is back to full time, and the contract stuff is picking up, so in a month or two I’ll be completely solvent again, which always gives me some emotional cushioning; the feeling of some kind of security always helps when it’s time to dig deep inside.  So for those of you still visiting, thanks for your patience, and I’ll see you in a week.

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