April 23rd, 2014 (In It)
by Steven Townshend
I have no regrets about painting all those miniature space ships this winter. I tell myself I should have spent my time more wisely, more productively, more…. whatever. But in the end I truly enjoyed the time I spent staying up late bent over those tiny models, looking at them through a magnifying glass as I tried to bring out the details. I enjoyed listening to audiobooks about World War I and George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman. It was a meditative time—a forced meditation of sorts—at the end of which I had made something I could be proud of. (Still need to play the game for which those ships were made, though).
Putting down words in the freelance project. I keep hoping that I’ve learned something from the past winter, but every project I do starts out as something scary in which I have no clear idea how I’m going to turn it into something good. Most of the time, this reveals itself as the project goes on and I spend more and more time in the world of the project. Sometimes there are sections that need to be filled with a certain amount of words and I can’t imagine what words will go there because I don’t have much to say on the subject. In those instances, I improvise the words; then, later on as I’m looking back on the project, I can see where the words need to change or what words need to be added or taken away. It’s easier—at least in freelancing—to have material to work from than to have nothing. In fiction I’ve found it’s often the opposite. Having too much of the wrong thing makes it more difficult, more confusing.
I keep buying margarita supplies in hopes that the summer will show itself. So far, this hasn’t happened. Living in Chicago, I should know better. But those days when it’s 70 degrees make me a believer. I’m going to be ready for it when it happens.
I’ve begun reading Jack Vance’s Cugel stories again, the second part of The Dying Earth. I can’t identify specifically what I love about The Dying Earth, but I know I love it and so I return to it to read it again. Last year I bought the Dying Earth tribute anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and featuring stories by several contributing authors, but had to stop reading it. When the stories brought back characters or explained or expanded upon events that Vance had left ambiguous, I felt like some of the magic was draining away from the world and my appreciation for it. Like many other book, movie, television franchises that went on too long, it’s one of those things where my enjoyment of it necessitates that I forget that part of it exists.
STRANGER THAN FICTION
Over the past week I’ve felt a strange and rare sensation of contentment that I suspect has to do with working on a freelance project. As stressful as it can be over the long term, and as much as I need breaks from it from time to time, there’s magic in making things.