Friday, January 02, 2015

Decade in Review: 2013

In November of 2012, we got a cat, Smokey.  Insert stories of the cat grooming us here.

January 2013.  After reading about the productivity of other writers who Arise Early, I started getting up at 5:30 to write during unprotected time.   Two weeks later I got sick.  And vacationed in New York.  The rest of the year was a battle to get up and write, which I won from about April to about October.

February 2013.  In a conscious effort to cut back my swearing at other drivers, I started saying, "bless you," instead of "damn you all to hell!"  This joins "Come on, Dover," and "Driver, why have we stopped?"   Although there's a visceral pleasure in muttering (usually) expletives, every now and I then it strikes me how ugly it makes me -- and shouldn't we all be spreading blessings to each other?  Even if they are said ironically?  Oh, who am I kidding; I still invent new circles of hell in which to condemn the people I'm forced to share the road with.

March 2013.  My short story, "The Gear Master's Wife" was chosen for publication by On the Premises.  I lucked out on this one.  The Wordo's Holiday story for December was a good match for the theme On the Premises was looking for, "Holiday."   Based on these sales, I'd say that a good relationship / married couple story does well there.

Machine cut paper projects continued.

April 2013.  I managed to start writing in the mornings again.  The sun was rising earlier, and I wrote outside so as not to wake the family with keyboard clicking.

Later in the month, I took a train to Seattle for a Clarion Mini Workshop on writing characters.  I'd say writing characters is my weakest quality as a writer (my strongest is cool ideas and world building).  There were some good pointers -- and I felt like the stupidest, slowest (and oldest) writer there (I wasn't having the best Sunday morning).  Everyone else managed to pump out short-story bits as if they were Zeus giving birth to Athena.  I felt like Peter Shaffer's Antonio Salieri in a room full of Mozarts.

Sometimes I wish I could take the full, immersive, six-week long, Clarion writing workshop.  Although it's expensive, I could apply for a scholarship.  But A) it's in Seattle, B) I'd have have to leave my job, C) I'd have to leave my family, and D) I have a feeling I'd never get any sleep.  OK, and E) I can imagine being surrounded by twenty-something Mozarts popping out Athenas while I'm bogged down in world-building in the hope that I will get a handle on the characters in the process would do wonders for my self-esteem.   Still, it seems like one of those Gateway Moments in Writing similar to Writers of the Future, where the words, "I attended the Clarion West Workshop" becomes the "open sesame!" of publishing (yes, I know it isn't).

It's times like this when my writing feels like The Seven of Pentacles from the tarot:  lots of work with no immediate gain and some fretting about the future.  And yes, I have time management issues.  And there's this sense that I'm starting writing way too late.

July 2013.  We put a deck on our house.  This is a big deal because it means we can get to the back yard more easily, and we have a sunny spot on the south side of the house that level and not too squishy after a rain.

August 2013.  After two years as a part time, temporary employee of the Psychology Department, I applied for and was accepted back into my old job with the English Department.   I was "The New Old John."  It was great to be back with the English Department team.

September 2013.  I didn't participate in the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire.  When I first started harping there, it had been magical.  I'd felt like I'd slipped into another time.   But lately, the fair felt more and more like someone's private costume party.  Our group would dance the Abbot's Bromely Horn Dance, which I loved; but I wanted it to be a time-travelling, world-crossing ritual, and I was dancing it with folks who were doing a re-enactment, and dragging them, unknowingly, into a ritual felt increasingly wrong and difficult.

And it became more and more a thing that I did without Mark and The Child.

I didn't miss sleeping on the cold open field (along with the raggle-taggle gypsies), but I did wonder a little bit, if I was having some problem with group activities no longer giving me the enjoyment they once had, and if this were indicative of an age-thing or depression or something.

October 2013.    Late in the month, I attended a Women in Science Fiction convention at the University of Oregon.   Ursula Le Guin and Kate Wilhelm were there.  Much of the conversations were about what it was like as a woman to write, especially in the 1960's and 1970's.  The conversations about gender and orientation and writing gave me a lot to think about in terms of what I want to write.   It also reminded me of the Joanna Russ collection at the university's special collection.

November 2013.  The summer light went away, and suddenly, getting up at 5:00 to write outside (or inside) became monumentally harder.  And I wanted to stay up until 1:00 AM writing.  And it became easier for me to think in icons and design stuff than to think lexically and write.  So I made a Twelve Days of Christmas card set.

When I think about 2013, it was about trying to make things work.

The first third of the year felt like I was getting somewhere with my writing, and then I hit a plateau.  One difficulty I have with "writing professionally" balancing the reality of writing as a business (with its attendant time management and product-product-product) and writing as art that sustains me.

In terms of what I'd call "Maker Art," I was going gang-busters with a Silhouette Cutter-Plotter.  So, while it wasn't writing, at least I was being creative.

In terms of The Day Jobbe, the move to English was a good one.  And it was weird discovering materials and notes I'd written in 2003.

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