Monday, December 31, 2012

Interesting bits of an interesting year, Part Two

In Part One of this look back at 2012, I talked about the ukulele, a portrait of me, some teaching, and my travels. Here in Part Two I select some fabulous (and not) surprises, and many things Hild.

Gifts and surprises:

People give me stuff--books, music, odd items, and a wide variety of edible luxuries that occasionally make the difference between a relatively mundane existence and a fabulous life (many people think writers are rich--and of course some are--but we're not). I love presents. Love swag; it pleases my dragonish heart. We get caviar, wine, chocolate--delicious, and always welcome. But here I want to talk about three non-edible surprises.

The first one was waking up one morning last January to find I'd been presented with the inaugural Galactic Suburbia award, for my blog post, "Taking the Russ Pledge." It came with this lovely doll:

For those who know me, a doll is perhaps a surprising gift. I'm much more of an edged-weapon fan. The more deadly the better. And from one friend for my birthday this year I got a replica of an Anglo-Saxon longseax. A thrilling gift. I had a wonderful time putting together a juicy, ruminative post on seaxes in general and Hild's in particular (complete with a tiny excerpt from the book).
My seax: a replica of a 10th C longseax
Hild's seax: probably made in the 6th C
At the end of the year I got a different kind of surprise: a seriously explicit naked photo of a fan. Don't get me wrong, I like seeing women with no clothes on, but I prefer a bit of warning and something of a say in the matter. When I'm drinking a very hot cup of tea first thing in the morning and I'm opening an email from a reader which I think is about getting together for a Hey, pleased to meet you drink, it can have...interesting consequences.

All things Hildish:

The most important Hild-related blog post was the one in which I announce the sale of my novel to Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The deal actually happened in February (right before the first trip this year to the UK) but I couldn't announce until May. If you sensed a certain extra zesty delight in the early months of the year, that's what was going on. I was pretty fucking happy:
photo by Jennifer Durham
While the deal was being negotiated, I posted this piece about my relationship to Hild, historical novels in general, and the Matter of Britain in particular.

A couple of weeks after I could finally talk about that deal (oh, you have no idea how hard it is to bite one's tongue for months), I felt extraordinarily over-qualified to explain that Writing is not a race. Writers: at every stage of writing (both process and product) patience is your friend.

After reading that post, someone asked me how I balanced the risk and reward inherent in such a huge (I think she meant insane) project as Hild. I explain to the best of my ability the weird negative capability and psychotic self-belief necessary for every artist.

And then, as the result of another question, I ponder the apparent oddness of why so many lesbian writers are writing historical fiction. I come to the conclusion that, for me at least, recasting the past is about shaping the future. That writing literally changes the world.

The future is what I'll be talking about next time: more about Hild and other things (related and not). 2013 is shaping up to be an interesting year.
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