As opposed to this time last month, I am not exactly catching up on my reading. Focussing on written words has been feeling a lot more demanding lately. I have been able to do a couple of critiques, which is good, but when it comes to reading for personal interest…
I finished a magazine article last week. It was a photo essay with very minimal text; slightly less than a page’s worth. Aside from that, I don’t think I’ve picked up anything to read since last Monday, when I reached the end of a book that I wasn’t really internalizing.
Eh. This too will pass, I suppose.
On the plus side, the cats are extremely cuddly (and even softer than usual since an entire spare cat was brushed out of them), spring is approaching, and it’s raining. I’m looking into a couple of things that should help, as well.
I am finding that I have been picking up a lot of podcasts lately. I’ve been somewhat interested in them for a while – I started listening to The Bright Sessions in late 2018, and progressed to The Magnus Archives – but lately I have just dived in. I’m listening to Unwell and Old Gods of Appalachia, I’m going to try Hitchhiker Horror and The Far Meridian, and the non-fiction This Podcast Will Kill You is weirdly relaxing. (There are a few other on my radar, but they’re not quite at the top of my to-listen pile. It is a growing pile.)
(I think it might be because I am not getting out a lot, so I am a bit restless, and they are easy to listen to while I am moving around the house. Plus they require a fairly constant minimal level of attention, which helps keep my mind from wandering. And unlike reading, they just pour into my ears and I don’t need to focus enough to read. Despite the fact that it helps to have something to hold my attention, I’ve been having trouble making myself focus lately, and these help.)
Aside from that, I have been deeply resenting the return of the snow (we were up to 20’C before it started snowing again!), and trying to make sure I keep moving. It mostly seems to be working, I suppose.
Sometimes I take minutes. My raw notes are inevitably a bit unpolished, but they’re pretty fast. And I clean them up before I send out the draft for people’s comments, because “a bit unpolished” includes my editorializing about some situations. (I write swears. Not that anyone else swears. Just sometimes things are stressful.)
In recent minutes, I referred to the current situation as “extremely dynamic” and that’s about the politest way I can put it.
I’m still submitting. I’m writing a little. I’m having real trouble revising my own stuff, though, so that’s going to be something I’m going to be trying to focus on next month. Aside from writing, I suspect I’m dealing about the same way many other people are, and a lot of them are being more eloquent about it, so moving on.
I am catching up on my reading, though.
Huh. I just noticed how close we were to the ides of March.
Like pretty much everyone, I suppose, the covid-19 news is a bit on my mind, and I’m trying to make sure I stay up-to-date on all the usual daily stuff despite distractions. It’s not so much that I’m missing out on things – the things that I’d want to go out to do are all getting cancelled – it’s that I find myself at slightly loose ends for what to do instead.
I did manage to get my Hugo nominations in before the deadline, though, and am looking forward to seeing the final ballot.
Related to that, the only work I published last year got a mention in Locus! Rich Horton said that it was his favourite story published in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet that year in his short-fiction-in-print review. I am really pleased by that.
…well that was a month.
A couple of days ago, I think I figured out why I never see any of my own work as “dark”. To me, something is dark if it develops in a chilling and unexpected, or a disturbing and surprising, way.
My own work usually isn’t unexpected or surprising to me. Therefore, it doesn’t register as dark. The implied body horror, the deaths, the strange alterations of self, the loss – that’s not dark, that’s what’s expected. (Not that these things inherently make a work dark, but they can, and they’re examples of what I’ve seen people point to.)
And yes, I have the same issue with a lot of horror – there’s very little of it that I parse as “dark”, simply because it’s horror, and that’s what I came for. It can be gruesome, chilling, heartwrenching, startling, dour, or dire – but because I’m going in expecting and hoping for that, it isn’t usually unexpected or surprising.
Aside from that, there’s been a lot going on, but a lot of it’s also been fairly personal and is in progress, so I’m going to settle for saying that I think things are improving.
Sometimes I turn around and it’s odd to be in 2020.
When I was a kid, I had an RPG sourcebook with that year in the title: Cyberpunk 2020. I didn’t have anyone to play with, but that wasn’t a problem; I read RPGs for fun, weird combinations of guidebook and recipe source.
I went years without thinking about that book, but I tripped over the setting again last year–someone’s making a video game–and it’s odd to me how much I still remember of it and how much I still care. My reaction went from “yes, that game looks like it’ll be very glossy” to “that’s Johnny Silverhand? They’ve got Johnny Silverhand? I remember him.” and next thing you know I was snickering over the Holy Fathers of the Perpetual Railgun again.
It’s funny the stuff that sticks with you.
None of the impressions that stuck from the stories that talked about 2020 were anything like this. On a larger level–and there’s a lot going on, on the larger level–I’m going to settle for saying that while there are definitely dystopian elements, the fictional version of them seemed like they were a lot more manageable. On a smaller level… well, I’ve been dealing with vet bills and doing the laundry. I like both my jobs, and periodically get very angry at both my jobs, and these two things are not mutually exclusive. Life goes on, and it feels like a lot of it is a rather tired puttering.
Well. The month is nearly over, and some things are improving. I hope that part of current trends continues.
My story “Mechanical Connection” is out now in the inaugural issue of Cossmass Infinities, which is available from a plethora of sources here. (Seriously, I count four even if you lump all the Amazons together.) I got my copy this morning, and it’s a pretty fantastic issue; I hope you enjoy my contribution, the story of a superhero who is more comfortable with machines than people.
I had two acceptances this year; one for “The Smell of Antiseptic” in Pulp Literature, and one for “Mechanical Connection” in Cossmass Infinities, which should be coming out tomorrow. I also had my novelette “Ink, and Breath, and Spring” published in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, which is something of a dream market for me.
I submitted stories 44 times in 2019, and got 34 rejections (32 were from 2019 submissions, and 2 were from submissions made in 2018). I also withdrew one story.
As of the end of the year, I have nine stories out. Overall, I didn’t get quite as many story submissions done as I wanted, but I at least got more stories out there and I’m pretty pleased with that.
Alright. On to 2020.
I mean, in that it’s time for a break. (The current schedule is a bit odd, as the standard work week is being broken up by statutory holidays, so it’s a lot of on-again off-again.)
I’m going to be doing some site updates over the next week. I don’t expect anything to change, but if you’re– hmh. Well, if you’re not reading this, I probably broke something? And if you’re reading this but it looks odd, my apologies, I’ll try to have it straightened out by 2020.
The weather isn’t looking like it’ll be too unpleasant at least, but I’ll probably spend a good chunk of the time off indoors, working on wrapping up reading and editing stories. It should be some nice downtime.
My story “The Smell of Antiseptic” is available now in issue 25 of Pulp Literature; the print and ebook copies can be purchased here, although the ebooks don’t unlock until January 1. It’s my story about ghosts and animal experimentation, inspired by some documents I ran across a reference to several jobs back.
(The prices are in Canadian, by the way, in case it makes a difference.)
Should you pick it up, I hope you like it.