- Read more of everything.
- Books are great, read those. But there are also newspapers and online news sites, short fiction, poetry, magazines, graffiti in bathroom stalls, motivational sayings at the bottoms of posters featuring kittens dangling precariously. Anything you enjoy reading, you should read more of. Anything that seems informative, you should read more of. Then, you should seek out the opposite information and read that, too, so you can decide for yourself which side you think is correct. Probably, the truth is somewhere in the middle. It tends to be. But the more you read, the better informed you are, and the better chance that you’ll be able to sort these things out for yourself.
- Go for more walks.
- Move purposely, out in the world, alone with your own thoughts. Look around the scenery. Stand up straight as you walk. Don’t hurry. Don’t dawdle.
- Sleep whenever you can.
- If you’re not being productive, if you’re tired, if you feel frustrated by your aging body’s desire to do less than your brain deems necessary at any given moment – go to bed. Rest. Nap. Sleep for many glorious hours. Whatever your body needs, do it. You’ll feel better, snap less, get more done, and generally be healthier.
- Replace every instance of “ferret” with: “they’re weasels, man, not pets; they’re fucking weasels“.
- Cook more often.
- I don’t mean heating food according to the package directions. Make something from scratch. Taste all of the ingredients. Roll them around on your tongue. Know the individual flavors of everything going into your food. Use ingredients you adore. Love your food.
- Every once in a while, refrain from saying something. You don’t always need to. You can listen, instead.
- Pick one thing you are unhappy about, and fix it.
- It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but it can be. That’s up to you. Just find one thing that’s making your life worse, a thing or a person or a way of being that you’re trying to ignore, and find a solution. Get rid of it. Have it repaired. Break up with it. Move away from it. Rearrange it. Ship it off to where it actually belongs. Whatever you need to do, stop putting it off, and get it done.
- Laugh every chance you get.
- Give something away. Preferably to someone who needs it, or someone that you would love to have the thing, or – if that fails – to a charity which could use the thing. You really don’t need all of those things.
- Take a day off. Listen to some music. Take a walk. Kiss someone you fancy. Eat a nice lunch. Maybe have a nap. Whatever you want, as long as you don’t do anything important at all.
I spent most of September sick and sleeping. The couple of months before had been so hectic, with such big life changes – leaving my day job, going back to college, DragonCon. When I came home from D*C exhausted, then realized I had a cold, and then watched it develop into bronchitis, I had to put aside everything but the bare minimum for survival. I spent a couple of weeks on my couch. I’m just now starting to feel better, though I’m certainly not caught up yet. (I shudder to think what my multiple inboxes look like.)
The one thing I was able to do consistently in September wasn’t sleeping, or working. It was thinking. I thought about me. I thought about writing. I have a million reasons for why I don’t write as often as I want to but they basically boil down to feeling selfish when I write. That time could be spent trying to earn money for my family. (Yes, writing pays, but my fiction takes six months to a year, or more, to see a return, and freelancing money helps with the bills I have now.) That time could be used washing dishes, folding laundry, cooking dinner, helping my son with his homework, doing my own homework, filling out forms, buying groceries… Writing time is stolen time, and I never quite believe I deserve to take it.
But writing is glorious, isn’t it? It’s a joy and a challenge. I feel a little empty, sometimes, when I’m not writing. I’m not wasting every day but I’m wasting a part of it, nearly every day that I don’t write, because I’m keeping myself from setting these stories loose. All I’m really doing is making myself sadder and isolating myself from the parts of me I like best. So… Fine. Okay. You win, little words. Fly.
I am going to write now. I’m going to tell you about it. And if you catch me not writing for long periods of time again, you get to call me on it. Deal?
My current writing in progress:
FOOTSTEPS – the working title of my new novel. Status: Fully outlined. Researched. World built. Ready to write. 3000 words so far. Needs 97,000 more on the first draft. (2015)
The cookbook – a companion to the novel. Yes, it’s an actual cookbook. I’m not sure anyone will see it, but it’s where I’m collecting the recipes that I’m writing for the novel, info on foods, growing advice, etc.
“Last Bus” – short story. 1400 words. Written, needs to be revised/expanded. (2015)
“Lucky Old Sun” – short story. 3500 words. Written, needs to be revised. (2014)
“Space Squid” – short story. Okay, that’s not really the title, but it’s not finished yet. 800 words, needs first draft finished. (2014)
“Bug Jar” – short story, 1100 words, needs first draft finished. (2012)
“Dream of Houses” – short story, 650 words, needs first draft finished. (2011)
“Swamp Music” – short story, 800 words, needs first draft finished. (2011)
Some of those start dates are from years ago! (Yes, I know I’ve written, sold, and published other work since, but we’re talking about the unfinished stuff today.) I’ve got more, notes and ideas and stories started but stopped and then maybe reconsidered, once in a while, but these are the ones I’m most confident about being able to finish, if I put my mind to it.
I just need to convince myself that it’s okay to be selfish, a little bit, just for this. I can write and still find a way to pay my bills. (You can help with that, if you’d like.) If I can believe that I can write without ruining everything else I’m trying to accomplish, at least not the most important parts, then I can allow myself the time I need. Not much time. An hour a day, maybe? That’s more than I’ve let myself have in a long time.
Hello, October. Let’s see how well I do.
Where I live, we have several options for buying food. In addition to the local grocery store chain, there’s a fancy yuppie market, a “whole foods” -style store that sells a lot of vegan/veggie foods, a farmer’s market (a couple of days of week through the summer), an Aldi, Walmart, an Asian market… even the Target has a grocery section. Usually, I do one or two big shopping trips to Aldi a month, and that covers everything except for what I get at the Asian market (lumpia wrappers, pancit noodles, etc), and a a trip to the chain store to get the few items I can’t get otherwise (or I’ll get them if I have to go to Target that month).
The last few weeks I’ve been so busy that instead of taking the time to shop at Aldi*, I’ve been picking up just what I need most, at the chain store. It’s much more expensive, and though it’s quick, it’s a time spent on lot of little trips. Plus, instead of having a fridge full of food to choose from, I end up stressed and annoyed that I don’t have choices; I don’t eat as healthily, and it’s tempting to get fast food or order delivery instead of yet another trip to the store to get dinner…
If you’re stuck inside with not much to do, take a look at the stories, essays, and interviews that have interested me this week:
Shimmer interviews my friend A.C. Wise, whose story “Tasting of the Sea” appears in issue #16.
Rose Lemberg collected speculative fiction poetry recommendations from various editors – read the list here.
Geoff Ryman’s famously sad novel, Was, is now available as an ebook from Weightless Books (their page has excerpts from the book).
Avi Steinberg talks writing and the Gilbert v Roth argument:
That’s the kind of a person it takes to be a writer: someone who’s zealous and ready to argue, someone who has Philip Roth tell him, “It’s torture, don’t do it,” and replies, “You had me at ‘torture.’ ” You don’t enter into it because it’s a great lifestyle decision—it isn’t—you do it because, for whatever reason, you believe in it, and you believe in it because, for whatever reason, you need to believe in it.
Discover News says readers grasp digital media (aka ebooks) just as well as print.
Eddie Huang (author, chef, and tv personality) talks to NPR about Asian-American food, family, and masculinity. (podcast/interview)
NY Review of Books talks about Wes Anderson as a writer.
Stupefying Stories put together a free ebook of shorts by authors eligible for this year’s Campbell Award.
Wonderful Chet Baker documentary “Let’s Get Lost” now on YouTube.
And… My latest appearance on the SF Signal podcast is now up: “2013 SF/F/H Conventions We’re Anticipating“. I mainly talk about how great Readercon is.