Okay. Time for a quick recap.
It’s been a week and a weekend since “Late Night at the Low Road Diner” got published, and I am still really pleased about it.
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.
Some fascinating comments on dystopias in science fiction, restructuring societies, and the Age of Emergency (which I now need to go read a lot more about).
The latter half of the month has been a bit much, but rather than focussing on that I’m going to note the positive.
First, it’s October, which is always a good month. A surprising number of the neighbours put up their decorations on the 2nd, and when I walk to the bus stop for work I’ve been walking past tombstones and skeletons and grasping decomposing hands and one disturbingly large and green plastic Slimer and cobwebs and–
Look, even the more restrained houses have hay bales. It’s a very enthusiastic neighbourhood this year.
I finally got a chance to sit down and rewatch Trick ‘r Treat, and that was comfortably reassuring as always. I usually try to watch something seasonal in October, and that was the first chance I had. (Speaking of which, a YouTube channel called CineFix did a list of the top 5 horror movies of all time once you eliminate all the famous ones, and it seems pretty solid–there are a couple in there I haven’t seen, and I think I should catch them.)
I also got a few sketches done for Inktober. Nowhere near close to one a day, but it was good to sit down when I could and scribble something out in twenty-odd minutes.
And finally, I got a couple more stories into a state fit to send out, so I’ve started collecting even more rejections; I’m pretty sure I’m on track to make fifty submissions this year.
Well, WorldCon was lovely, although I’m pretty sure that by the end of it I was running on half the sleep I should have been. Very glad I went and got to see and talk to everyone I did, although I wish I’d had more time.
(Also I have to say that the experience of singing the Stephen Universe theme song along with the members and attendees of a panel was a really sweet experience.)
Work wasn’t exactly difficult, but there was a pretty close deadline and I ended up doing a fair bit of overtime. I knew that I worked well with deadlines; I hadn’t specifically realized before how easy it was to let a work-set deadline override all the other deadlines I tried to set for myself. I feel like I lost a lot of August to that.
Anyway, moving forward, I had some luck finishing a draft with an outline and I’m hoping to get some revising done this weekend–the uninterrupted block of time should help.
To be clear that’s “being the subject of targeted annoyance” rather than “being in a free-floating annoyed state”. Because apparently there is at least one guy in the complex where I work who takes the sight of a woman walking down the hall and being engaged in something on her phone as a reason to pretend he’s going to run into her.
Not even joking. Direct quote: “I was just bugging you. Acting like we were going to run into each other. Because you were on your phone.”
Yes, sir. Yes, I was on my phone. And you successfully interrupted what I was doing, motivated by seeing that I was on my phone. For your next trick, perhaps you will interrupt someone who is not available to pay attention to you in a completely different way.
I am mostly over the irritation about this, but it feels like the week is shaping up to be a long week and this didn’t really help.
I was walking home today and I ended up waiting at a streetlight next to two other people. One of them was trying to talk about his writing, and the other was interrupting. A lot. I’m sure he thought he was scoring very clever points.
“What do you mean, a book is forty thousand words?”
“Of course I’ve read a book. I read!”
“How can the internet screw it up? How can a book be ten words?”
And he was just badgering. And I wish I’d said something. I didn’t, because it was a private conversation and because the oh-so-clever man struck me as belligerent and possibly slightly drunk, and I was very tired and afraid of starting an argument.
But the other man was just trying to explain that he’d written forty thousand words, and that it was time to start trimming it down, and getting dragged into a discussion of work definitions by length, and…
I wish I’d said something. I wish I’d said excuse me, sir, you wrote forty thousand words? That’s amazing. Congratulations. Or something. Something to weigh in and let him know that deserved better than someone trying to chew at him over wordcount.
Never undervalue your work. Never undervalue the words you put down and hang together. Not everyone will know that it’s hard, not everyone will listen when you try to tell them.
But please know you’ve done something grand.
In the last five days, I have
- cruelly abandoned my cats in a place that is one step down from being a kitty spa,
- travelled to Ohio (border crossings, dear god, border crossings. And why are the railings on the Ambassador Bridge gently crumbling away into rust like piles of cigarette ash?),
- caught up with people that I haven’t seen in person in six years,
- visited a fireworks store in Michigan (for the record, it smelled like bath bombs–not scented or perfumed bath bombs, just the dry and powdery ingredients that seem like they should end with -ate),
- had a couple of pit bulls be absolutely adorable sloppy cuddle-puppies,
- had a ridiculous amount of very good food,
- hit the Toledo Zoo,
- had a giraffe chew on my shirt (to be fair, he was going after the lettuce I wasn’t giving him fast enough),
- seen jellyfish and bioluminescent fish and a very boredly dismissive kudu and really they are gorgeous in a very elegantly understated way,
- learned three new campfire games,
- stayed up very late playing a homebrew blend of Zombicide and Betrayal at House on the Hill,
- stopped to have a sushi dinner with a friend I had never actually met in person before (who reads this! Hiiii!),
- and gotten most of the way back home.
(Not all of the way. Self-preservation and the schedule of the cat boarding place dictated not driving all the way through, so we’ve stopped at a hotel. I am actually typing this last night–I cannot be bothered to wrangle hotel internet RN–so the last four days are “July 1st to 4th inclusive”. I’ll post it in the morning. It’ll still be “the last four days” when I do.)
I’ve also rediscovered that yes, I apparently am a person who gets squirrelly without a certain amount of movement in the day. It keeps surprising me; I never think I’ve been making a concentrated effort to walk long enough for it to have become any kind of habit.
I have brought back a not-to-my-mind-ridiculous amount of Cock & Bull caffeine free cherry-ginger soda, and a small stuffed green tiger from the Toledo Zoo. Whose name is Lymoncello, by the way. I will need to get a photo up.
Turning in, given how soon the alarm is going off. May all the roads you go down be kind ones.
I’m going to BC for almost a week. BC is relatively warm, relatively hard to get to (the trip involves a puddle-jumper), and possesses the currently-very-cherished-by-me quality of not being Ontario in February.
The weather isn’t currently as bad as some Februarys (how does one pluralize that?), but in the next ten hours we’re supposed to get 5 to 10 cm of snow and ice, and then freezing rain all morning. This is actually pretty good for sidewalks before they’re plowed; if there’s a cushion of compressible stuff under the ice crust from the freezing rain, and the crust isn’t too thick, you can punch through the crust and embed your feet in the snow and ice pellets to reduce the odds of slipping.
The fact that this is my definition of “pretty good” is part of why I’m going to BC. The part I’m visiting gets a fair deal of rain (although I’ve mostly missed it when I’m there), but so little snow that it’s hardly worth mentioning.
It’s also the first time in a long time I’ve gone on a vacation and it hasn’t been to go somewhere. I’m a bit unnerved by the lack of schedule, but mostly I’m just hoping that I don’t end up worrying so much over what to do that I end up stressing during my time there.
It’s a neat word; it’s inarguably a noun, but it covers both the actual object (my driver’s license! Which I now have!) and the quality of being permitted to do something. People have license to speak freely, to buy the books that suit them, to travel to other cities.
I would have expected it to share a root with censure, since that sounds similar and means pretty much the opposite, but as far as I can tell, it doesn’t.
Getting my driver’s license was much more frustrating that I’d hoped. For Reasons, I needed documentation that wasn’t on the website, so I had to go home to get it and come back. That is roughly a 25-minute drive, and as may be inferred from the fact that I was there to get a driver’s license, I could not simply drive home and then back.
But I got it, in the end.
So! License achieved. Now all I need to learn to do is drive.
I’m going for my driver’s test tomorrow. (This will not get me a full driver’s license, but it will get me a first-level license; what we call a G1. It will allow me to drive a car in certain circumstances with a fully qualified driver in the passenger seat. We have graduated licensing in Ontario, you see.)
I’m nervous. It’s strictly a paper test, so this is not the road-test-what-if-I-hit-something fear. (Do people worry about that? A lot?) It’s more the fact that you currently need to pay $150 to take the test, and I am really really hoping I do not need to do that more than once.
(I had a G1 driver’s license for a while, but I let it lapse. Back then it only cost $100 to take the test.)
The idea of driving makes me nervous, since in my experience it is the activity that most often causes otherwise reasonably restrained people to start yelling at other people (even if said people can’t hear them). This clearly means it’s a dangerous and fraught activity that should be approached with extreme caution, right?
But I’d like to be able to drive, both because it’s useful and because it’d allow me a lot more freedom of movement. So here’s hoping the first step doesn’t need to be taken more than once.