February 2nd, 2007


GAH! It's Cold!

Not Just Your Usual Carping About Cold

I'm currently running in a curious mix of 19th, 20th and 21st century living. I'm sitting here typing on a laptop PC, updating to LiveJournal, once again here in the business center of Lemmen-Grand Chevrolet. And I was transported here via the steppes of central Russian a la Dr. Zhivago.

Right now it's about 19degF. And last night, Mrs. Dr. Phil reported that the 1994 S-10 Blazer was throwing up a greasy fog onto the windshield in the defroster mode. Sweet smelling. Oh crap, it's coolant. If we were lucky -- and we're never lucky -- it's a heater hose or clamp. But in all likelihood it's the heater core. The problem is, this is one of four weeks in this semester that I don't have Friday's off. And since I have to get up at oh-dark-thirty in the morning to hit the road at 6:15am to get to my 8am class -- and today was our first exam in PHYS-1070 as noted in the previous posting -- it's not like I can drop the Blazer off at Chevy and drop Mrs. Dr. Phil at Grand Valley on my way to work. I mean, actually I could, but it wouldn't be a fun day for anyone. (grin) Oddly, yesterday she had a meeting down in Kalamazoo at Western Michigan University and we could actually have done transport together -- except the heater core hadn't blown yet. Oh well.

I've Already Commuted For The Day

It's 11:49 at the moment I am typing this in WordPad, before using the business center phone line and logging in. And I've already driven to/from Kalamazoo already -- my usual 154 mile-a-day roundtrip -- and stopped at Grand Valley to swap Blazers, swap the GVSU parking sticker and swap the parking space, and move my junk, brush off the snow, etc.

Then the Long March Through The Steppes of Central Russia. See, it's 19degF, as I said, and I had to do it (a) with the heater turned OFF, (b) the driver's window opened 3/8" to keep my breath from fogging up the windshield too fast, (c) a 20-30 mph wind blowing cold air and snowflakes in said 3/8" air crack and (d) being the third vehicle behind a minivan who decided that conditions were too dicey to drive faster than 38 mph. And being a very large person, it is easier to drive in just my sweater rather than trying to fit in wearing a winter coat. So... Gah! By the time I drove the six or so miles into Allendale and the six or so miles north to Coopersville... DAMN it's damned cold.

Serendipity (grumble, grumble)

Long time readers of this LJ or people who know me, are often perplexed when I discuss auto repairs or other disasters and sometimes talk about them being well timed. Mrs. Dr. Phil in particular feels personally betrayed whenever technology breaks. Me, I'm a big fan of serendipity. (grin) It's hard, when one is freezing cold, to find the gem hidden amongst the icy crystals as one's blood slowly hardens into a Dr. Phil-scicle, but frankly... the timing of this was pretty good.

See, I did have the afternoon free today, and as soon as I'd finished giving my exam, marked up the key and stuffed the tests in the grader's box, hit the bathroom, I was able to leave campus pretty quickly, gas up the 1996 Blazer and make excellent time on clear roads nearly the entire way. Tomorrow, Saturday, they're forecasting blizzard conditions and by Sunday the Alberta Clipper moving in will drop us down to the lowest temps in a decade. Single degrees Fahrenheit, on either side of zero, with more winds and snows. That's around -20degC for those of you keeping score in the metric world.

So it's not like it would be possible to do this swap run on Monday, or to ask Mrs. Dr. Phil to suck it up, handle the repair herself and drive the vehicle sans heat/defroster at temps when it will fog up faster -- this isn't something to recommend. Really, getting here by 11:30 and having Mike the Mechanic (okay, actually Mike the Service Person, but the other reference is more fun) recognizing the problem from the windows even before I get out and lining up someone to Get Right On It -- really, it's a good deal. And the Business Center in the "new" Lemmen-Grand dealership, which has been here for what... nearly ten years already, is so much warmer and well-lit and outlet friendly than the old dingy waiting room in the old dealership in downtown Coopersville.

The Tertium Quid

Yes, we do have a third, spare Blazer. Some kid drove up to the house last night and wanted to know if I wanted to sell the spare Blazer. Are you kidding? No! It's mine. And I might need it someday. Er, just not today. Because the 1989 S-10 Blazer is 2WD and while it has excellent snow tires on it right now, it's not nearly as ice-nimble as the two 4WD's. Plus I haven't driven it in a while, so it probably needs the battery charged, partly because... well, there's a slight sweet smell with the heat on and it probably needs a new heater core...

Full circle. Full stop.

Dr. Phil
  • Current Mood
    cold cold

Pre- and Post-Clarion Writing

Still at Chevy while they change the heater core in the 1994 S-10 Blazer. Thank you for asking.

Would You Like Some Malaise On The Side With That Order?

I was cruising around and found this on secritcrush. It's a little piece on her thinking about her own writing.

Someone on my friends list mentioned Clarion this morning. My writing career is very much divided in my head into pre-Clarion and post-Clarion eras. Most particularly because I haven't been very happy with my writing at all since Clarion. I've been feeling like my stories were uninspired, uninteresting and generally all kinds of meh. And it was pretty near impossible for me to see the good things in them because I was so busy looking at the flaws.

Unsurprisingly (to me anyway), I hadn't sold a single thing I'd written after Clarion until this past week.

The good news is I am finally emerging from this malaise. I'm really enjoying writing again, and feel like I'm writing interesting things, the sorts of stories that I'm the only one who can tell them, and feeling good about the whole thing.

Which is eleven kinds of awesome.

Clarion is boot camp. Clarion is rebreaking bones so they'll heal better. Both metaphors can apply, though your mileage will vary as to which one hurts more. (grin)

No Doubt About It

Clarion is most definitely a life changing experience, though not always in the ways we thought it might be when we fired off the application letters. (grin) Amongst my Clarion class of 2004 are those who have published short stories, novels, been published in one or more of the majors, established small presses -- all sorts of things. Some have not publicly written anything since. That is they may be writing but they're not talking. Others have been writing but not selling. Some of us have had a couple of trickles here and there

There was always plenty of lore on the Web that this business was slow and frustrating before we got to Clarion. And Clarion doesn't necessarily speed this process. While you might've spent six weeks being more productive than you've ever been, you've also exposed a whole lot of raw nerves and old wounds, and it takes time to put it all back in the box and make it work again.

There's the old joke that the anointed writer/instructors gather around and hand you your secret decoder ring at the end of the workshop, so you now know the secret to getting published and becoming a successful writer. If there is a secret decoder ring, though, they hand it to you without any directions.

Why Would Anyone DO This To Themselves?

-- Doctor, doctor, my head hurts like hell when I bang it against the wall. -- Why are you banging your head against the wall? -- Because it feels so good when I stop. --

If you have to ask, then maybe you are ready for a Clarion. Or maybe you've never thought about it before. When I applied, not only did I have the time and the money and the support from Mrs. Dr. Phil, but I also knew I needed to do something to stir things up. The phrase "take it to the next level" is so overused, but it reflects a certain sentiment, a mindset. I can write, I can put together a story, I can finish it, I can send it out, I can take rejection. But if I wanted to go further, I needed some help. Clarion was one way to get that help.

Bridging The Gap

It's easy to look at what I've done pre- and post-Clarion and see a difference. I've been writing for decades, especially the fifteen years before Clarion, and so I'm still working with material and stories started pre-Clarion. But I'm also writing totally new stuff. So my current output is a blend. Hopefully I'm taking the best of both eras... or at least working in that direction.

Dr. Phil
  • Current Mood
    nerdy neat-o