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Dragon Kings

29 January 2004

Tuesday was one of those confirmatory days, where you find out that something you've always assumed or accepted to be awful really is just as bad as you imagined; and then yesterday, ah, yesterday was good.

Tuesday we had a grading meeting at the university: half a dozen of us in a room and three and a half hours of 'You've marked him at a 58, but look, I gave her a 60 and if you compare their papers, look, she's not as good as he is...' It was, of course, a nightmare; what else could it be? Even with the wonderful Geoff Ryman there, who's teaching here next semester: Geoff whom I've known for twenty years, Geoff who is taller than me and smarter than me and a better writer to boot.

That meeting was so awful, there was nothing I could do after but stagger home, open a bottle of wine and read Terry Pratchett. And try not to think of those poor souls - many of whom I know - who do this stuff for a living, year in and year out. I deliberately keep the university work peripheral, do as little as I can, so that I can walk away at any time. That open door is a luxury, and I do appreciate it. I wouldn't want anyone to think I took it for granted.

But then came yesterday, and that was just happiness all round. Crunched through fresh snow in the morning to get to my Pratchett class, then spurned an offer of lunchtime drinking in order to come home and work (and yes, there really are times when saying no to a drink makes me happy; usually it's times like this, when the call of the keyboard is the stronger). Came home, checked the e-mail - and the lovely Peter Crowther wants to publish Dragon Kings Play Songs of Love, in his new magazine Postscript. Reading the story to Bryan & co at the weekend had reignited my fondness for it, which was reinforced by the company's reaction, so I sent it to Peter on Monday. Swiftness is a virtue in any editor; when they're swift to say yes, this is doubly blessed.

Buoyed by that, I might have bounced down the hill to the pub with a book, and thought the day well spent. But I had come home to work, and work I did: not bone-crushingly, not anxiously, just steadily from then till bedtime, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Fifteen hundred words for the day, which is ample. And so to bed feeling entirely satisfied with myself; and the mood goes on, this morning I have again turned down an evening's socialising so that I can stay at home and work. Use it while you've got it is the rule, I think. These moods don't last.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.