who’s afraid of the big bad tired? And, the exercise of wonder

I’ve been trying to get my younger son (9 months) to sleep through the night. but last night my husband finally asked me to intervene and stop the screaming. I am so tired that an email to my boss this morning was nearly incoherent. Random word placement, necessary words missing, bizarre grammar.

Still. I want to have another child. Hard to know why, but maybe it’s an argument for giving one’s self over to evolutionary determinism. that is to say: Peter Watts and other may talk about sex as having primacy, but, really, it’s about the reproduction. (along those lines, I’ve come to realize that whenever I hear the words “single mother” I want to beat the face out of the now-missing father. And I realize that in certain ways, single motherhood is progress from a world owned by men and that many women choose to be single and mothers. I don’t fault the women; given different circumstances, I would absolutely make the same choice. I fault a world in which men shoot off genetic material and feel no, nor are pressured/required to assume, further obligation.)

But what I really wanted to write about this morning, if I can manage to write a sentence without having to backspace 5-10 times (no exaggeration. i’m that tired. and you figure, that’s only the errors I’m catching), is the idea of exercising wonder. Not the experience of wonder, but of thinking wonderfully. Hmm. I’m not sure I’m getting the words right here.

Let’s talk in the concrete.

I like stories that push my expectations. This can unfold in different ways: Adventure Time likely has its own set of rules, but it’s so far outside the world of my reading material that I get consistently surprised. Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder, almost anything by Jeff VanderMeer. There’s so much expectation of the same, a feeling of (dreaded) predictability, but all these works caught me by surprise.

I find, too, that what I like most in writing is catching myself by surprise. Catching one’s self by surprise is not a good writing strategy; for longer works, it’s probably not even viable (note that in my Fire God and Nothing, I’m completely stuck because the length of the piece requires SOME degree of forethought and planning). I would never, ever argue (anymore, that is) that the snowflake method of writing (which is to say, extensive planning before ever writing a word) should not be used. It should. You should not waste your own time the way I waste mine. I should not even waste my time. I’m just pointing out that the surprise is often what I relish the most.

And so, I wonder, can I cultivate the an unbound mind? That is to say, the creation of territory that thrives outside expectation. A practice of flipping the expected? Darting off in an unexpected direction? I don’t know. A character started compulsively throwing up bugs this week (Adim, the only mortal that’s named in “the Young Gods” or “The Gods that made God”, I’m still not sure of title).  I have no idea why he is doing it, but I hate to eliminate the scene just because it’s completely irrational and, well, irrelevant. I’d much rather push the point and figure out if there is a reason. (Actually. Let’s be honest. What I would like far more is to not explain it at all. but the feedback I get on these kinds of things is always bad)

and let me go work.


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