tagged me with five things she thinks of when she thinks of me. Here's a brief explanation of how each of them looks from the inside.1. bookmaking
I started binding books in December of 2001. I bind mostly in leather, using both traditional and modern methods. I am a member of the British Society of Bookbinders (though I kind of weird them out because I'm self-taught).
Now, I grew up around printing (my father has two printing presses in his basement), and I married into a printing family (my in-laws own a company that manufactures and sells printing chemicals). So, naturally, I started binding books so that I could have blank ones to write in. I learned mostly from books, and documented what I learned on my (hopelessly out of date) binding blog, http://bookweb.sunpig.com
I rebind published books as well as making blank ones. Most of my bindings are given away, or find their way onto my shelves. I sell blank books on occasion, for fairly small sums; this pays my materials bills and not much more. I am content with that, though one day I would love to be the
science fiction bookbinder. (Accept no substitutes)
Binding books, for me, is about craftsmanship. But because it competes with the rest of my life, sometimes it's about being good enough rather than being perfect. The perpetual tension among all of the pressures is difficult to balance, but, in the end, good for me.2. Dutch
Dutch is the fifth language I have studied (English, Spanish, Latin and Greek being the others). I've never managed true fluency in any language but English; my Spanish was good for a while, but not completely there.
Secretly, I am not convinced I can really become fluent in a second language. This is, of course, nonsense, but it's very powerful nonsense.
I have to overcome this mental block. We moved to the Netherlands with the intention of raising bilingual, multicultural children. But, of course, this move requires me to become bilingual and (even more) multicultural as well. (Martin is already fluent in Dutch, having grown up in the south of the Netherlands.)
It helps that I love the language, which is quirky and cranky in many of the same ways that English is. The word order is completely bats. And I love the sound of it, because I heard it when I was falling in love. (I am particularly fond of Martin's accent.)3. poetry
I never think of myself as a poet.
I wrote sonnets during high school--dreadful ones--and decided that my muse sang only in doggerel. When I joined Making Light
, it gave me someplace to post my doggerel, but I never took it seriously.
It wasn't until John M (Mike) Ford, a regular on Making Light, died that I started writing them again. He was always the master sonnetrist; poetry slams then were races for the silver. (I wonder now if that bothered him.) I was just scrambling to fill the aching hole that I could see in the community. Then, of course, the other poets came out of the woodwork, many of them much better at the craft than I am.
Sonnets, really, are a habit of language taken to formal extremes. When I was in practice I could write them in as few as sixteen minutes (good ones took longer). But at the moment, I can't seem to write any at all. I think that Dutch has taken over those parts of my brain. I miss them, and I regret that everyone but fledgist
has stopped with them as well. I feel it's my fault, somehow.
I have written one poem in Dutch, a "Sinterklaasliedje" (St Nicholas' Day song) for a colleague. I enjoyed it; maybe next year I'll write more.4. pastiche
I do a lot of pastiches on Making Light, particularly for parlour games.
But my favorite pastiche exchange is actually a tiny one with just a couple of people at the tail-end of another thread entirely, as we wrote and rewrote the same passage of "On the Death of WB Yeats" to relate to space, time and science fiction. It's only about six comments long, but I found it stretching and amusing.
My problem is that I'm flying blind whenever I try to do pastiches of writers. What ear I have for tone is unreliable with my own prose. I can sometimes hear when I strike a false note, but more often, I can't really tell when I'm on-voice or not.
I'm also appallingly ill-read. I'd never run across the plums poem until I came to Making Light and saw it adapted by all and sundry. The literary game threads are as much recommended reading lists for me as they are puzzles ("Oh! I wonder how that sounds in non-LOLcats!")
But, you know, the only real requirement for pastiches (and for poetry, for that matter) is that both I and the reader have fun. On that basis, I'll probably continue to do them.5. motherhood
I've been a mother figure for longer than I've been a mother. I have a brother 12 years younger than me, and a sister 2 years his junior, and I spent much of my childhood and young adulthood "playing on the grownups' team".
But now I'm a reallyo trulyo mother, and it's strange to me. I'm always bemused and baffled that my children love me with such devotion and affection. I don't see myself as deserving it, really. I don't manage the transcendent elements of parenthood that well; I just bumble along.
I do try to tell my children that I love them often, frequently in detail. I'm a great believer in the value of physical contact, and make sure that we spend some time each day cuddling. And every night, when they're asleep in their rooms, I creep in and kiss them one more time, and whisper good things in their ears.
I don't know if this makes any difference to their dreams, but I can hope.
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So that's me. If you want tagging, say so in the comments and I'll tell you five things that I think about when I think about you.