Six months ago today I called in sick to work. I had been trying to focus all day the day before, and I had been failing more miserably than I can tell. The plan was to go over to a friend’s for dinner, and we all got in touch with each other and agreed that it was probably a good idea to cancel.
And that was Friday (the 13th, hah), and the weekend was weird and tense, and by the time Monday rolled around lockdown was in full effect. There was still snow on the ground.
And really, I don’t quite feel like summer happened (a very common sentiment, from what I hear), and now we’re sliding down into fall again. I love fall, but I wish I could have a chance to enjoy it without all the worry.
I got to go in to the office yesterday. (I say “got to” because when I found out about it, my reaction was similar to the reaction of the dog if you ask her if she wants to go for a walk. I like where I work.)
So I went in and said hello to reception from a safe distance and through the plexiglas shield, and then went up to the fourth floor where I was the only person, and turned on the lights, and filed stuff and restarted my computer and packed up some things from my hutch that didn’t come home in the first emergency wave. And I left after 45 minutes.
(The sign-in sheet said that there was one other person in the building, but they were on the second floor so I didn’t see them.)
I have missed work. I like everyone there, and I love being part of what we do. I’m working from home, so I’m still doing something, but I really miss seeing people and saying hello and listening to conversations in the kitchen while I knit and… just people.
I called in sick on Friday the 13th, so my desk was very “this is the middle of the work-week”. The calendar pages for March and April (because of course I put current-month and next-month there for tracking at a glance) were still taped up to my hutch.
It was very much a reminder of what-was-normal-before that I wasn’t expecting, and it’s left me a bit melancholy.
I keep trying to draft this, and I keep coming back to what other people have said that I admire. “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” “Not caring about politics is a privilege.” “Silence is a message.”
This feels like the kind of thing where I should be owning my own words, and not bouncing off those of others. Also it feels like the kind of thing where I should really stop delaying until I have near-perfect words. It’s fine to do that for my fiction when no-one’s waiting on it; it’s not fine to do that now.
Racism is a real and living thing. I am white, and was raised with that privilege; I have been trying to undo some of the things I’ve learned, and it’s pretty clear that I need to both try harder and make more of an effort to fix systemic issues. I’m going to try harder, because the current state of things is just not tenable and needs to get better. I am sorry I didn’t do more already.
It’s really a pretty pleasant month, all things told. (I mean, most months are pleasant when you’re thinking about them while a cat is sitting on your lap and purring, but October generally suits me even without that.)
Work continues to go well. I’m working on the OcTBR Challenge and have finished ten books so far this month, which is honestly making me feel a little better about the ungoverned tsundoku pile I am dealing with. I’m also culling books, which is giving me space to put a lot of them more neatly on shelves. Yesterday’s election could have gone much worse. All the pets are okay. I got a very small rosebush and have so far managed to keep the pets from eating it (although it’s early days yet).
I actually finished a new story this month, too, rather than just revising something. Of course, given how I usually work, this means it’s going on the pile of things to revise. I’m hoping it’ll go faster than previous ones, though.
In other news, I had a small road trip which included dinner 120 stories in the air at a revolving restaurant with a spectacular view, and seeing a lot of very old horror movie posters and props, including what everyone is very sure is the last surviving poster from the original run of Frankenstein at the ROM’s It’s Alive! exhibit. I also got to go by Wonder Pens, which is a really lovely fountain-pen-and-related shop, and think I am now sated for ink for a while.
Heading out to Surrey for SIWC soon, and hoping that will be as fun and informative as it was last year. I should go pack.
It’s been a bit of a long week (really, there is nothing like cats for being able to cause a sudden bolt to the emergency vet; he’s fine, bless and damn his furry little butt), but I had a really lovely day today. Think I finally figured out what I need to do to get the framing on a story working, and then got to go out. I don’t get out a lot, and I’m really glad I got to see people.
It looks like I’m going to be teaching again in the winter semester. I’m looking forward to that, and hopefully I’ll manage it a bit better the second time around; there was a bit of a learning curve last time and I think that slowed me done.
I’m going to try to focus on finishing edits for the rest of the year, rather than starting new stories. Surrey’s coming up next month, and there’s something specific I want to have ready for that, so that at least provides some structure to the pile.
I have another novella drafted (that sound you hear in the background is the sound of me despairing of finishing anything before winter; the drafting went fairly quickly, but the revisions generally don’t, and right now I mostly have a lot of things that need revision). I also went to WorldCon, which was what WorldCons usually are; full of people I did not have enough time to catch up with (some of them have been making their own ribbons!), possessed of fascinating panels with conflicting scheduling, and generally a happy experience. I collected many signatures and made it to the Hugos.
My sleep schedule still hasn’t quite steadied. I expect it will over the next week, and then I will spend the first few weeks back home getting up at 5 a.m. or so. (Yes, I am hoping this works out as writing time.)
There’s an effort being made to create a Hugo for games–you can read about it at www.gameshugo.com–and I’m really hoping that that succeeds. Possibly more thoughts on that later; for now, this was the fifth and final day of the con and I can’t do more than mutter vaguely about “Powered by the Apocalypse”-this and “Choice of Games“-that and “the decision to not give the player character the option to ask about weird and surreal details in Kentucky Route Zero is a subtle but powerfully-effective way to suggest that the strangeness of the setting is normalized to some degree!”-other.
I have recovered from April! Unfortunately, we’re over halfway through May, so.
The combination of “fiscal year end” and “end of term” was interesting. I really enjoyed the chance to teach, and from the (safely anonymized) student comments I didn’t do too badly? I’d like to do it again (although as a part-time professor, I won’t get the chance until winter).
I’m currently looking for stories to recommend for a slightly updated version of the course. I’m largely trying to keep it to prose, and looking to the Hugos and Nebulas as a filter, but it’s still going to be a bit of work.
I went to TCAF this weekend past! It was honestly fantastic, and I had a great time. Came back with a few more books than I was expecting, but it was a great weekend, and the trip each way gave me a lot of time to read. I’m hoping to get some reviews up.
On a personal note, I just handed in my comments on the page proofs of a story that should be coming out later this year, and I’m generally feeling pleased with that.
Well, we’ve had stretches of full thaw interrupted by days of below-zero temperatures and snow, but I’m pretty sure spring is going to actually show up shortly, and stick around.
Work (both jobs) seems to be going pretty well overall. I got an encouraging rejection recently, and I’m pausing to be glad for editors in the world who actually manage to deliver those kindly, because it was actually a really nice email to get. (Yes, the story’s been resubmitted.)
It occurred to me today that I’m looking at travelling to up to three cons this year–two conventions and a conference–and I’m thinking that should be about the most I plan for. I’m not sure I’ll make it to all three; I am sure, however, that planning for more than three is going to end up draining me before I get there, so none of that.
And in other news, Camp NaNoWriMo is being surprisingly motivating this year. I’m trying something new. (I’m also repeating every “fail faster” fragment of advice I’ve ever heard to myself. It seems to be helping.)
First off, you may note that my avatar has changed; it is currently an illustration by Claudia Cangini in the vein of the After The War RPG, which will be debuting on KickStarter in a few weeks–on November 12–at which point I’ll be able to share the story I wrote for it.
October was a one-convention, one-conference, one-vacation month in the middle of crunch time, which means the time off was lovely but also extremely dense. Coming back to work has been a bit of a shock, but I think I’m catching up on things again.
A final note: I went to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference and would love to go again; I have not taken notes like that since university, and I feel like my brain is still digesting quite a bit. It was lovely to see people (I finally met Cat Rambo in person!), it struck me as an incredibly well-planned conference, and there was karaoke.
I should have another short piece coming out soon, set in the After the War universe–details soon! I’m very pleased to have been invited to write for the setting, and I hope you enjoy it when it comes out.
Crit group was yesterday. I am very lucky to have my crit group; they are a thoughtful, well-informed group who manage to articulate a lot about expectations and pacing and emotional weight and signalling, and even when it’s not my story getting critted it is honestly so good to be able to hear everyone else’s thoughts.
Consider that my writerly advice, rather than going on about adverbs. Find people who can give you good critique and treasure them. I find it’s too easy to be looking at your story and seeing what you meant to put in there rather than what’s actually on the page, otherwise. (Admittedly, I once wrote a story about a couple of fictional characters come to life and completely forgot to mention anywhere in the story that that was what they were. So I’m particularly prone to blind spots. Also I once wrote a story that I forgot to mention was about fictional characters coming to life, so you may want to take any advice I offer with a grain of salt.)
Also yesterday, I finished handwriting the edits to a 13,500 word story, and am now typing them up. I’m suspecting I will need to give it another editing pass, and it’s going to end up in the nearly completely unsellable length of 15-16K words, but it will be done.
I’ve also finished my travel arrangements for Scintillation and the Surrey International Writer’s Conference, so October is going to be a very full month, but at least one that’s well organized.